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The first last day
First Aladdin hardcover edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Aladdin, c2016.
Physical Description:
232 pages ; 22 cm.
Reading Level:
620 L Lexile
Eleven-year-old Haleigh and her best friend, Kevin, must find the source of a mysterious set of paints she found and learn the secret of a time loop before it is too late.


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The magic of summer comes to life in this enchanting middle grade debut about an eleven-year-old girl who must save the future by restarting time after she realizes that her wish to relive the last day of summer may not have been such a great thing after all.

What if you could get a do-over--a chance to relive a day in your life over and over again until you got it right? Would you?

After finding a mysterious set of paints in her backpack, eleven-year-old Haleigh Adams paints a picture of her last day at the New Jersey shore. When she wakes up the next morning, Haleigh finds that her wish for an endless summer with her new friend Kevin has come true. At first, she's thrilled, but Haliegh soon learns that staying in one place--and time--comes with a price.

And when Haleigh realizes her parents have been keeping a secret, she is faced with a choice: do nothing and miss out on the good things that come with growing up or find the secret of the time loop she's trapped in and face the inevitable realities of moving on.

As she and Kevin set out to find the source of the magic paints, Haleigh worries it might be too late. Will she be able to restart time? Or will it be the biggest mistake of her life?

Reviews 3

School Library Journal Review

Gr 4-6-Saying goodbye to summer is not easy for 12-year-old Haleigh Adams. She is not looking forward to her future. Thoughts of moving to a new town, meeting new friends, and losing old ones make her uptight. She treasures the languid days at the Jersey shore making sci-fi movies with her best friend, Kevin. Their last day together is one she would like never to end. In this delightful and observant tale, Haleigh gets her wish. A set of old paints strangely end up in her backpack, and she uses them to create a painting of their last summer day together. The paints have a magical effect: every day Haleigh wakes up, it's the last day of summer. This satisfying tale moves at a leisurely pace. Readers get to know the fine-tuned cast of characters and enjoy them as much as Haleigh does. While the end of that last summer day is always bittersweet, Haleigh finds comfort in the sameness. Readers will feel for Haleigh as she sees her situation from the viewpoint of everyone affected. The mystery of the magic paints pleasantly resolves itself. The writing is realistic and easygoing. The character development rings true as Haleigh slowly discovers that she can handle whatever life brings. VERDICT This will appeal to reluctant readers and those looking for a fun summer read with a twist. A heartfelt novel loaded with wonderful character development.-Sada Mozer, Los Angeles Public Library © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Horn Book Review

Haleigh doesn't want summer to end. When she finds paints with directions to "paint your heart's desire," she illustrates her perfect last day and wishes for a do-over. Groundhog Day meets Tuck Everlasting as Haleigh wakes to the same day and tries to change the inevitable, soon understanding some things shouldn't last forever. Engaging and surprising, the novel tackles hard questions about mortality, time, and friendship. (c) Copyright 2017. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Review

This novel makes a convincing case that all time-travel stories are really stories about death and immortality.The plot of this book is familiar: Haleigh lives the same day over and over again in an endless loop. It's the premise of countless books and movies. Cirrone mentions several of them directly, including Richard A. Lupoff's very morbid 1973 story "12:01 P.M.," in which a man keeps dying in an endless cycle. Haleigh's story is almost as dark: every night, in the middle of the night, her best friend's grandmother has a stroke. For the first few days, Haleigh thinks she can prevent it from happening, but the novel gradually turns into a book about the acceptance of death. And yet, it's hardly ever sad or philosophical. Most of the time, it's a caper story involving some magic paints and a quest to restart time. Once in a while, it nearly turns into a sitcom, with terrible jokes about cows. (This may qualify as a mistake in tone, as they are very bad jokes.) The author rarely mentions the characters' race, but the few people she describes seem to be white. The book is at its best when it acknowledges its real subject, as when the grandmother reflects on mortality or in a lovely scene near the end in which Haleigh, in tears, calmly waits "for the future to happen."A light book that deftly plumbs some pretty dark depths. (Fantasy. 8-12) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.



The First Last Day CHAPTER 1 I once read that the Eiffel Tower can grow more than six inches in summer because heat makes iron expand. When I said that to Kevin, he stopped on the boardwalk and turned to me wide-eyed, like I'd just revealed the secret plot to the next Star Wars movie. "Do you know what that means?" he asked. "If people were made of iron, you'd be five feet three--and I'd be five feet ten." I straightened my back and stretched my neck. "In a really hot summer, maybe even taller." As I let myself imagine that I wasn't always the shortest twelve-year-old in the room, Kevin took his notebook out of his backpack and jotted something down. "What are you writing?" I asked. "An idea for a movie: a kid who becomes a giant every summer but shrinks back to normal size when it's over." "Interesting. But who would you get to play the giant kid?" As families strolled past us with dripping frozen custard cones and funnel cakes, Kevin thought for a minute. "I have a friend who's really tall. Maybe he--" A ping sounded from Kevin's cell phone, and he stopped to read the text. "It's my mom. She and Dad just drove in from Montclair to take me home tomorrow." "Please," I begged. "Don't say that word." "Which one? I said sixteen of them." " 'Tomorrow.' I'm trying to forget this is our last day at the shore." Kevin's eyes gleamed as he put his phone away. "I've got something that'll cheer you up. Wait here." "What is it?" "A surprise," he said, taking off toward his grandmother's house. Knowing Kevin, I figured it could be anything from a vintage Batman comic to a moldy potato chip that looked like Spider-Man. Neither of those would cheer me up. The only thing I wanted that day was for summer not to end and for Kevin and me to stay friends after we left the shore. While I waited, the familiar sound of squawking seagulls and the smell of coconut sunscreen drifting by on a warm breeze were comforting. The sameness of summer always made me feel safe and happy. As soon as we left the shore, my dad was starting a new job at a big university, and we were moving to a new house. Again. That meant another new school. And another year of making new friends. We'd moved four times already, and each time I thought I'd found a BFF, things would change once we weren't at the same school anymore. They'd be talking about things and people I didn't know, and before I knew it, they'd moved on. I hoped Kevin and I wouldn't drift apart like that when summer was over. Even though we'd be at different schools, he didn't live that far away from where we were moving. And I'd already figured out that if I left the next day at noon, he and I would have spent approximately seven hundred and twenty-four hours hanging out at the shore. That kind of time together had to mean something. It was more than I'd ever spent with anyone, except my parents. And maybe some random kid I'd sat next to in school because of our last names--like Tiffany Addison, who was always asking me why I drew people instead of cats. I love cats as well as the next person, but not when they're wearing tiaras and carrying purses, like the ones she drew all over her notebook. It was kind of demeaning to all catkind. I tightened the band around my frizz of a ponytail and squinted toward the beach. My mind's eye made an imaginary click, click, click: Sunbathers lining the shore like stick figures. Kids guarding their sand sculptures from the incoming tide. And the endless line separating the periwinkle sky from the cerulean ocean. I was about to take out my sketchpad to capture it all when I felt something behind me. Startled, I turned to find Kevin wearing a cow costume, complete with a hood that had pink ears sticking straight out to the sides--and an udder. I eyed him up and down. "I see you've beefed up your wardrobe." "Well done!" Kevin shot back. He spun in a circle. "What do you think, Hales?" Kevin is the only person I'd ever let call me Hales. At the beginning of sixth grade, one girl started calling me Hale. Then some others gave me nicknames like Storm and Tornado. One kid even called me Acid Rain Adams. That was when I learned you have to be very careful when you let someone give you a nickname. "What's up with the costume?" "My mom saw one of those TV shows about hoarders, and now she's on a cleaning binge--it was in my closet back home. I couldn't let her give away something this cool." "And . . . why did you have a cow costume in your closet?" "Class project. Did you know a cow spends eight hours a day regurgitating and chewing her partially digested food?" "Ew." "And, one cow produces almost two hundred thousand glasses of milk in her lifetime?" "Being a cow sounds tiring--and kind of gross." "Being a fake cow is cool. I'll let you try on the costume." "No thanks." "C'mon," Kevin said. "I've only had it on for like fifteen minutes and I can already tell you something about everyone on the boardwalk." Kevin's father is a psychologist, so Kevin thinks he can figure out everything about everybody. I pointed to a guy in beige shorts and a white T-shirt, licking a cherry Italian ice. "Okay, Dr. Cheeseburger, what's his story?" "Let's see. He's very well adjusted and can cope with change. I know that because he looked at me, smiled, and went back to his Italian ice." I motioned toward a woman wearing huge sunglasses and a white lace bathing suit cover-up. "What about her?" As the words came out of my mouth, she pressed her lips together and hurried by. "That one has major anger issues," Kevin said. "How can you know that? Maybe she's a vegetarian . . . or lactose intolerant." "How could anyone look at me wearing this outfit and not smile? I look udderly ridiculous." "You do look ridiculous." "Ridiculously fun!" Kevin reached into his backpack and handed me his video camera to film him along the boardwalk. Then he shouted, "Lights, camera, action!" I'd been helping Kevin with his science fiction movie all summer. He didn't know what it would be about, but he wanted to be ready with a lot of footage once he decided. I walked backward as I filmed. After several near collisions, I stopped and looked up at him. "What kind of science fiction movie would have a cow in it?" Kevin thought for a second. "Vampire cows! It's got Oscar winner written all over it." I gave him the camera and laughed. "More like Oscar Mayer." "Good one," Kevin said, smiling. The first time I saw that smile was when I bumped into him, literally, at the beginning of summer. Both of us stared straight up at the sky as we walked along the boardwalk. I was studying the exact shade of blue, for a painting, when our shoulders smacked each other hard. "Whoa," Kevin said. "Sorry." "It's okay," I mumbled. Most kids would have kept going--but not Kevin. "You know what I was wondering?" he asked. Even though it was a weird question, the sparkle in his greenish brown eyes made me stop and ask, "What?" "If you hung on a rope from a helicopter and hovered for about twelve hours while the Earth revolved, could you end up landing in a different country?" I didn't know the answer. But once we started talking, I knew this kid would definitely take the bored out of the boardwalk for me. And I was right. Kevin continued filming random people. Most sped by as soon as they saw him. After a while I put my face close to the lens. "C'mon. We need to make the rest of this day special." "Okay," Kevin said, stopping to think for a minute. "I know! G-Mags is making cannolis for tonight. Let's help her." G-Mags was the nickname Kevin and his brother gave their grandmother: G for Grandma and Mags for Margaret. She was a lot older than both my grandmothers, who live far away. I don't see them very often, but I had seen G-Mags almost every day over the summer. "Sounds good to me," I said. Kevin gave me that familiar grin. "Then let's get a moooove on." Once we crossed the street, he kicked a rock and chased it toward his grandmother's house. I watched as he and his cow suit grew smaller in the distance. Excerpted from The First Last Day by Dorian Cirrone All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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