About the Holiday
National Good Neighbor Day was established in the early 1970s by Lakeside, Montana resident Becky Mattson and made an official holiday in 1978 by President Jimmy Carter. The purpose of today’s holiday is simple: to appreciate your neighbors and to make sure you’re a good neighbor too. To celebrate, say hi to your neighbors or take them a special treat!
Good Morning, Neighbor
Written by Davide Cali | Illustrated by Maria Dek
A mouse had a hankering for an omelet, but he didn’t have an egg. He went to his neighbor Blackbird and said, “‘Good morning, neighbor. Do you have an egg that I could use to make an omelet?’” The blackbird had no eggs, but she did have flour and suggested making a cake if they could find an egg. That sounded good to the mouse, so they went to visit their neighbor, Dormouse on his leafy branch. “‘Good morning, neighbor,’” they said, and asked for an egg.
The dormouse didn’t have an egg either, but he did have butter for the cake and a suggestion to ask Mole for an egg. Down in the mole’s dark hole, the mouse, the blackbird, and the dormouse asked if Mole had an egg. “‘I’m sorry, I don’t,’” she said, “‘but I do have sugar. You’ll definitely need sugar to make a cake!’” They all went off to visit Mole’s neighbor, the hedgehog, to see about the egg. Hedgehog thought they might use his apples to make the cake if his neighbor Raccoon had that elusive egg.
“‘Good morning, neighbor,’” the group said before asking about the egg. The raccoon was sorry to tell them that she didn’t have an egg, but then added that she did have “cinnamon to add flavor.” Who could they ask next? Raccoon thought her neighbor Lizard might have an egg, but he only had raisins to add to the recipe.
Next, they went to Lizard’s neighbor, the bat—who said, “‘Of course I have an egg!’” With all the ingredients in hand, the neighbors went to work: “The blackbird poured the flour. The bat broke the egg. The dormouse added the butter, and the mole stirred in the flour.” Then the other friends added their ingredients too.
All that was left to do was to bake the cake. Everyone climbed high into Owl’s tree to see if she had an oven. “‘Good morning, neighbor,’” they all said. “‘Could we use your oven to bake a cake?’” “‘Certainly,’ said the owl.” When the cake was ready, Owl asked how many slices she should cut. They counted out: Blackbird got a slice for her flour, Dormouse for his butter, Mole for the sugar, Hedgehog for the apples, Raccoon for the cinnamon, and Lizard and Bat each got a slice for their raisins and egg. And they did not forget “a slice for the owl for the use of her oven.” Eight slices in all.
Sadly, the mouse asked, “‘What about me?’” The dormouse answered, “‘You didn’t put in anything. So you don’t get a slice.’” Besides, he added, it was hard to cut a cake into nine slices. As the mouse walked away, the other animals reconsidered. The blackbird realized that if the mouse hadn’t asked for an egg he “‘wouldn’t have thought about giving him flour to make the cake.’” Then Dormouse, Mole, Hedgehog, Raccoon, Lizard, Bat, and Owl all decided she was right about how mouse had spurred their participation too. So they cut the cake into nine slices—“which wasn’t that hard after all—and enjoyed eating it together.
Davide Cali’s classic-style, sequential story builds gentle suspense and intrigue as the forest animals visit neighbor after neighbor looking for an egg to bake a cake. With the acquiring of each new ingredient, the group of friends grows, giving young readers plenty of chances to chime in on the repeated phrase list that precedes each “Good morning, neighbor.” As the animals each add their particular offering to the batter, observant children may notice the absence of Mouse. Dormouse’s clipped response to Mouse’s request for a piece of cake will surprise and even perhaps shock readers. Blackbird’s defense of Mouse and the other animals’ change of heart provide opportunities for thought-provoking discussions about the value of ideas, the role of different contributions, the nature of friendship, and what it means to be a good neighbor.
Maria Dek’s homey, warm-toned folk-art illustrations lend grace and charm to Cali’s story, while whimsical elements, such as Mole’s slippers and hat, and Lizard’s unique raisin delivery method, will endear the characters to readers. Tearful mouse brings a moment of sympathy and empathy that is happily resolved in a two-page spread of a twinkling light string-bedecked forest where the group of animals celebrate their friendship.
Ages 4 – 7
Princeton Architectural Press, 2017 | ISBN 978-1616896997
National Good Neighbor Day Activity
“Hello, friends!” Word Search
Sure, your neighbors are the people who live in the houses on your street, but they’re also the people in other towns, in other states, and even in other countries. And they’re not just neighbors—they’re friends! Learn how to say “hello” to all your friends in twenty-five languages with this printable word search.
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Picture Book Review