Jashar Awan’s What a Lucky Day!

h1 September 22nd, 2020 by jules


Debut author-illustrator Jashar Awan’s What a Lucky Day! (Norton Young Readers), coming to shelves next month, is a book about assumptions. We all know the old saying about the act of assuming. Awan’s story is a much more eloquent—and entertaining—take on the whole matter.

A stork heads out with a fishing rod, dreaming of fish for dinner. When a black cat appears, the stork is certain the day is ruined. The black cat sees a raccoon (“that masked bandit”) and is certain the raccoon is a thief. The raccoon sees a frog and thinks, “I hope I don’t get warts!” The frog is hoping the stork doesn’t deliver any babies on an already crowded pier. So it goes with the four animals, all believing untruths about one another and all assuming no one will catch a single fish. (The spread in which they eye one another suspiciously is pictured below. Angry fishing. I love it.)

So it is with shock that each catches a fish. After they start talking to one another, they realize … well, that they were all guilty of doing precisely what the bumper sticker linked above says.

If this sounds like a book that wags its finger in children’s faces, don’t fret. It’s not. It certainly has a point to make about falling for assumptions and believing superstitions, but Awan lets the characters carry the story. And it’s one that will get children thinking about misconceptions, stereotypes, and jumping the gun to judge others.

His illustrations feature simple shapes and endearing creatures in cool teal, copper, and lavender shades. The text is laid out in a big, bold font with varying font sizes and colors (a color to match each creature) that, instead of distracting, manage to communicate a great deal of the book’s emotional subtext. The backgrounds are uncluttered so that the characters can take the stage.

There’s even a closing spread (“WAIT. WHAT?”) that explains the superstitions linked to each animal.

Below are some of the dynamic illustrations from the book, and below that are some early pencil sketches from Jashar. They are early iterations of the characters and story; to prepare the art, he did so digitally.


Some Final Spreads:


(Click spread to enlarge)


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Some Early Sketches:


First notes


Cover sketches


Endpaper sketches


Pencil sketches




Three images above: Thumbnails
(Click each image to enlarge)



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WHAT A LUCKY DAY! Copyright © 2020 by Jashar Awan. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher, Norton Young Readers, an Imprint of W. W. Norton & Company. All other images reproduced by permission of Jashar Awan.

2 comments to “Jashar Awan’s What a Lucky Day!

  1. My gosh, I think *I* just need this book so I can hand copies to people. What a fabulous premise, and the illustrations are GOLD!

  2. I love seeing the rough sketches as Awan was working out ideas and the characters. It gives the final illustrations a history and greater sense of personality.

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