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No Ordinary Day

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  946 ratings  ·  193 reviews
Even though Valli spends her days picking coal and fighting with her cousins, life in the coal town of Jharia, India, is the only life she knows. The only sight that fills her with terror is the monsters who live on the other side of the train tracks — the lepers. When Valli discovers that that her “aunt” is a stranger who was paid money to take Valli off her own family’s ...more
Hardcover, 160 pages
Published September 10th 2011 by Groundwood Books (first published January 1st 2011)
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Average rating 3.95  · 
Rating details
 ·  946 ratings  ·  193 reviews

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Jun 15, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, bookclub
"If you were not scared, you would be having just and ordinary day." That got through to me. I knew what an ordinary day was like. I did not want to go back to that.

A beautifully written story about the life a poor girl in India. Even though the book was short, I felt like I knew Valli. Highly recommended with young readers, I will definitely be saving this one for when my kids are a bit older. It has been listed for or won the following awards:
Winner of the Booklist Editors' Choice: Books for
Betti Napiwocki
Feb 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This week I read two Deborah Ellis titles in preparation for the Global Fair. I began with "No Ordinary Day" and quite honestly had a hard time getting through the first chapter because I couldn't quite find the rhythm of the story, and because the imagery was so disturbing to me. This feeling of unease soon passed as I continued on and finished this book in one sitting. I was so moved by the strength, courage, and ingenuity of the main character, Valli, as she made her way through life in India ...more
Sonja Arlow
3 ½ stars

The children in this book reminded me of the homeless kids in the movie Slumdog Millionaire.

This story touches on prostitution, poverty, prejudice and leprosy all within only 155 pages.

Little Valli finds joy in the strangest of places. A free cup of tea, a “borrowed” blanket from a hotel, the luxury of sleeping in peace for a whole night, even if this sleep can only be found in a graveyard.

But one thing really scares her. The monsters on the other side of the train tracks, who have ea
Sep 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I think that this was a great book. It really spoke out to the conditions of the poor in India, and informed everyone who read the book about Leprosy and how it can be treated. The author explained the false view people have about it, and why they should think differently. I recommend this book to everyone so they can learn about this important issue!
Aug 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
Learning that her "family" is not really her family is freeing for Valli. With this new information she runs away from the
coal town in which she was living to the city of Kolkata. Valli quickly adapts to city life and learns to survive on the streets. What she does not realize is that like the people in her home town that she made fun of, Valli also has leprosy. While swimming to find coins, Valli meets a doctor who takes her to the hospital where she works. Valli is grateful
for the care she rec
Melissa Wine
Oct 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: novels
Diversity Novel:

I'd recommend this book for middle school readers. I love the underlying them of pay it forward! There are also strong themes of friendship, self-acceptance, and survival. Valli lives with a terrible aunt and uncle in Jharia, and spends her days picking up coal. Often, her cousins and her throw stones at the “monsters” across the railroad tracks. We eventually learn that these “monsters” suffer from leprosy. I think it is important for children in American classrooms today to lea
Sep 30, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: ncbla
This author always manages to remind me that the world is filled with "haves" and "have nots," and makes me grateful for own much-easier life. When Valli finds out that the family she has been living with her entire life is not even related to her, she decides to leave the coal town of Jharia, India. Afer a series of unfortunate events, she ends up on the streets of Kolkata where she barely survives by stealing, borrowing, and begging. A chance encounter with a kindly doctor changes her life, an ...more
May 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: childrens-books
I thought this books was great showing the hidden children in India. Those who live in poverty or worse than poverty. I found Valli a strange character but amazing too. For most of the book she did not see her "place" in life as something horrible. She accepted her lot in life with humility. I give her major kudos for hoping a random truck to wherever she could get to away from the family she thought were her relatives but weren't. It is interesting how she behaved when she realized more about h ...more
Ms. B
Jul 30, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2012, childrens
What if you didn't have a home nor a family? What if this was you and you lived in India? What if you are also had 'magical' feet which are feet that feel no pain even when they step on hot coals and jagged glass?
This is the story of young Valli who is living such a life in the streets of India. First in Jahari and then Kolkata. Survival means borrowing (aka stealing) and then passing it on to someone who needs it more. What happens when Valli meets a doctor who lets her know that her 'magical'
Mrs Mac McKenzie
Deborah Ellis is so good at telling the truth about peoples lives in a way that is not patronising but with feeling and compassion without you realising it. She does her research and really expresses life of the children she writes about in a way that informs without being preachy.

Along with her other novels No ordinary Day tells the story of a young person dealing with a situation that is out of their control and which they are making decisions based on the best information that have. Leprosy a
Annie Oosterwyk
This book took about an hour to read. It bounced lightly over such topics as poverty, homelessness, leprosy, prostitution and sex slavery and thievery. The main character thinks she has magic feet because she can stand in the hot coals of a burning ghat and not feel a thing. Lucky for her because her feet are in fact rotting beneath her. I found the presentation of such serious and tragic issues too superficial and brief. I guess middle school would be the audience, but who would want to explain ...more
Edward Sullivan
No ordinary novel! A heartbreaking but ultimately hopeful story thanks to compassionate strangers, and an insightful look at the most impoverished life imaginable from the POV of a young girl.
May 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
No Ordinary Day - A Story About Curiosity and Hope

The story is based on a little girl named Valli, she had a family til she discovered her family was her 'family'. She runs away from home and lives on the streets of Kolhata. She learns to `borrow` things from people but when shes done she`ll give it to someone who needs it more. One day she was showering in a river and met a doctor that offered her a check-up. The doctor told her that she has leprosy, a disease that blocks the feeling in the ner
Kryisha Rajan
May 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Warning this review is going to give out some vivid details about this book, so if you don't want any spoiler or such things for this book novel. Then I suggest that you should GO AWAY!

No Ordinary Day by Deborah Ellis is a fantastic novel. The book the events of Valli’s(the main character) adventures in Kolkata, India. Valli is a courageous girl who finds herself on a journey of independence, taking with her only her spirit. Even though she was neglected by her grandparents and finding out that
May 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
I think 'No Ordinary Day' was a book with absolutely beautiful vocabulary and symbols that made me understand the novel with a much deeper meaning than I usually do with other books. This novel is about a young girl named Valli who is diagnosed with leprosy. She is not accepted into society for the disease she has, however, through her journey in the city, she meets someone called Doctor Indra that can help change her life forever.

The novel has many symbols that make the book so much more inter
Mary Clare
Deborah Ellis is a terrific author whose mission is to bring the struggles of children in different countries into the awareness of her first world readers. In "No Ordinary Day," Ellis creates a winning heroine in Valli, an orphaned girl in India who is surviving by her wits in the streets of Kolkata. Valli is profoundly shaken when she learns that she has leprosy, will she be able to overcome the cultural taboos surrounding this disease in time to get help?

May 02, 2018 rated it liked it
I love how this book tackles leprosy. I like how they make whoever had Leprosy were monsters and the way they are treated. It is not right to treat them like that because it is not their fault and this book does a good job telling how you can deal with it. This book has some themes about family and survival. When she learns her family has been paying her uncle and aunt to keep her with them she runs away. This really connects with me because if I found out that my parents are paying some horribl ...more
May 28, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: kids, ya
I struggled to get into this book...a problem when the book is only a hair over 150 pages long! But the story ended up being worth it, and I found myself almost sad when the story ended, as I truly wanted more.

As a side note: the cover isn't a good introduction to a book. I seriously thought it was about a homeless child and her cat... lol

Content Advisory: poverty, illness, discrimination, homelessness, death, (hints at) institutionalized prostitution
May 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is great. It is a kid's book, and it is about a serious subject, but it is entertaining and captivating to read. This book has a good story, and also a main character I could bond with. This is not a super-long book. The main character is about nine years old, however, I believe that children older than nine would also be fascinated by this book.
Feb 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
"No Ordinary Day" By Deborah Ellis is a book about a girl who leaves her village to start a new life, she then lives on the streets of a larger city. She has to figure out how to live and deal with Leprosy, a disease that ruined the nerves so she can feel pain. I would recommend this book to people that like historical books.
Jan 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. I instantly felt a connection to Valli, perhaps because I work with children and interact with them on a daily basis. The book is easy to read, fantastic story line and the perfect amount of details to keep the reader engaged!
Harry Dingemans
Mar 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
No Ordinary day is a good book. One of my first books relating to real-life events and problems. The way Deborah Ellis describes this girls life is amazing. I am interested and at the same time angry that this happens in real life.
Feb 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
I loved the way Deborah Ellis portrayed the thoughts of a young child. The innocence of the main character is amazing and her outlook on her ailment is not one that I would expect.
Jan 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book because it had a lot of action and power in it.
Jan 24, 2018 rated it liked it
The story was pretty powerful to me because It shows that others aren't as fortunate as I am. The character Valli is a really strong person.
Feb 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
I think this book was a good book
Jan 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I liked it. It had a sweet and a little sour ending. I disagreed with some of the characters choice sometimes but I was glad that it had a happy ending (more or less).
Apr 23, 2019 rated it liked it
It was ok, the dialogue could have been better and there could have been more internal thoughts
Feb 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
It was very interesting to see how a different culture views leprosy, and just how different the culture of India is.
John Sawyer
May 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A gift

After you read this book you will want to share it. I am sharing it with my wife and my children and my grandchildren. It is a beautiful story about beautiful people.
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Deborah Ellis has achieved international acclaim with her courageous and dramatic books that give Western readers a glimpse into the plight of children in developing countries.

She has won the Governor General's Award, Sweden's Peter Pan Prize, the Ruth Schwartz Award, the University of California's Middle East Book Award, the Jane Addams Children's Book Award and the Vicky Metcalf Award.

A long-t

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55 likes · 15 comments
“Nobody really owns anything. We give back our bodies at the end of our lives. We own our thoughts, but everything else is just borrowed. We use it for a while, then pass it on.
We borrow the sun that shines on us today from the people on the other side of the world while they borrow the moon from us. Then we give it back. We can't keep the sun, no matter how afraid we are of the dark.”
“Nobody really owns anything. We give back our bodies at the end of our lives. We own our thoughts, but everything else is just borrowed. We use it for a while, then pass it on.” 0 likes
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