Gettin’ Through Thursday by Melrose Cooper

Gettin’ Through Thursday is perhaps not the first book you’d pick up at the library. It’s a book about a child in a tough situation. His family is struggling to make ends meet – payday is on Friday, and every Thursday they’ve run out of *something* they need but can’t buy until that paycheck comes in.

Then comes one particular Thursday, Report Card Day. Andre has worked hard, and is thrilled to find out he’s earned the Honor Roll. But it’s Thursday, and Mama can’t buy him what’s necessary for a proper celebration. Andre is understandably upset.

In the end, Mama comes through. Using the same ingenuity she employs to make-do every Thursday, she makes a fun, imaginary party for her son, enough for him to know that she is proud of his hard work, and that he is special. Yes, he gets a “real” reward on Friday, but the important thing is the family made it through yet another Thursday.

My favorite line from the book is a lullaby that Mama sings,

Hush, little darlin’, don’t say a word. Friday is a’comin’, ain’t you heard? No matter how bad the Thursdays get, ain’t never seen a calendar skip one yet.

This book was written in 1998, and is clearly aimed at a certain social group. Not only is Andre and his family illustrated as African-American, and they speak in a slight dialect, the family obviously has no father in the picture. So if that’s not relatable for your child, why read Gettin’ Through Thursday? First, in the economy of 2009/2010, many more children are being told that their families “can’t afford” something, at least not until payday… or a parent gets a new job… or something else. So I imagine Andre’s struggles are something that more children can relate to than the author originally expected.

Second, I can’t neglect to say that I appreciate each book that shows people who put such emphasis on hard work in school.

Third, and perhaps more important, this is a wonderful story of a family sticking together, holding each other close in a tough time. The warmth of Andre’s pretend celebration is palpable. The text and the illustrations work particularly well together here.

Gettin’ Through Thursday is a book to tuck away for the day that a child begins asking questions about why his family’s finances are tight. Well done.

Available on Amazon

Gettin’ Through Thursday by Melrose Cooper, ill. by Nneka Bennett. Lee & Low Books, 1998.

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