Excerpt from The Golden Day by Ursula Dubosarsky, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Golden Day

by Ursula Dubosarsky

The Golden Day by Ursula Dubosarsky X
The Golden Day by Ursula Dubosarsky
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Aug 2013, 160 pages

    Apr 2015, 160 pages


  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
Tamara Ellis Smith
Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

All on a Summer's Day

The year began with the hanging of one man and ended with the drowning of another. But every year people die and their ghosts roam in the public gardens, hiding behind the gray, dark statues like wild cats, their tiny footsteps and secret breathing muffled by the sound of falling water in the fountains and the quiet ponds.

"Today, girls," said Miss Renshaw, "we shall go out into the beautiful garden and think about death."

The little girls sat in rows as the bell for morning classes tolled. Their teacher paused gravely. They gazed up at her, their striped ties neat around their necks, their hair combed. "I have to tell you that something barbaric has happened today," said Miss Renshaw in a low, intent voice. "At eight o'clock this morning, a man was hanged."

Hanged! Miss Renshaw had a folded newspaper in her hand. She hit it against the blackboard. The dust rose, and the little girls jumped in their seats.

"In Melbourne!"

In Melbourne! They did not really even know where Melbourne was. Melbourne was like a far-off Italian city to them; it was Florence or Venice, a southern city of gold and flowers. But now they knew that it was cruel and shadowy, filled with murderers and criminals and state assassins. In Melbourne there was a prison with a high wall, and behind it in a courtyard stood a gallows, and a man named Ronald Ryan had been hanged at eight o'clock that morning.

Hanged . . . Who knew what else went on in Melbourne? That's what Cubby said. But Icara, who had been to Melbourne with her father on a train that took all night, shook her head. "It's not like that," she said. "It's just like here, only there aren't so many palm trees."

Trust Icara to notice something peculiar like palm trees when people are being cut down on the street and carried away and hanged, thought Cubby.

Miss Renshaw beckoned at the little girls to leave their seats and come forward. They gathered around her, their long white socks pulled up to their knees.

"What did he do, Miss Renshaw?" asked Bethany, the smallest girl in the class. She had small legs and small hands and a very small head. But her eyes were luminously large. "The man who was hanged?"

"We won't worry about that now," said Miss Renshaw, avoiding Bethany's alarming stare. "Whatever he did, I ask you, is it right to take a man and hang him, coldly, at eight o'clock in the morning?"

It did seem a particularly wicked thing to do, the little girls agreed, especially in the morning, on such a warm and lovely day, when everything in it was so alive. Better to hang a person at night, when it was already sad and dark.

Miss Renshaw banged the newspaper again, on the desk this time. The little girls huddled backward.

"So today, girls, we will go outside into the beautiful garden and think about death."

Miss Renshaw was nuts — that's what Cubby's mother said. "Still, you've got to do what she says, Cubby. Remember, she's the teacher."

"But what if she tells us to jump in the river seven times to cure us of leprosy?" asked Cubby, thinking of the Bible story that one of the senior prefects, Amanda, had read out loud in chapel.

And Eli'sha sent a messenger to him, saying, "Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored, and you shall be clean!"

Up rose the voice of Amanda like smoke from behind the wooden eagle upon which the large Revised Standard Version of the Bible was laid out. Amanda's name meant "fit-to-be-loved" in Latin; Miss Renshaw had told them so. She was fit-to-beloved, with her long, fair plaits as thick as the rope that the deckhands threw to tie the ferry to the wharf on the trip home from school. Everyone admired Amanda, and not only for her hair.

Excerpted from The Golden Day by Ursula Dubosarsky. Copyright © 2013 by Ursula Dubosarsky. Excerpted by permission of Candlewick Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $39 for 12 months or $12 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  The Painter, Charles Blackman

Join BookBrowse

and discover exceptional books
for just $3.25 per month.

Find out more

Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: River of the Gods
    River of the Gods
    by Candice Millard
    The Nile River has provided vital resources for millennia, serving as a source of water, food and ...
  • Book Jacket: Horse
    by Geraldine Brooks
    Geraldine Brooks creates a powerful backstory for 19th-century thoroughbred racehorse Lexington, ...
  • Book Jacket: Notes on Your Sudden Disappearance
    Notes on Your Sudden Disappearance
    by Alison Espach
    Notes on Your Sudden Disappearance will make you ache for a loss you didn't experience as you relate...
  • Book Jacket: Mercy Street
    Mercy Street
    by Jennifer Haigh
    Jennifer Haigh's Mercy Street centers around a Boston clinic that provides abortion services. The ...

Book Club Discussion

Book Jacket
by Maggie O'Farrell
"Of all the stories...about Shakespeare’s life, [Hamnet] is so gorgeously written that it transports you."
The Boston Globe

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Good Husbands
    by Cate Ray

    Three wives, one letter, and an explosive secret that will change everything.
    He said, she said. Who do you believe?

  • Book Jacket

    Fruiting Bodies
    by Kathryn Harlan

    A genre-bending debut collection of stories full of desire, wisdom, and magic blooming amidst decay.

Win This Book!
Win Where the Crawdads Sing

Win a signed copy of Where the Crawdads Sing

In celebration of the movie release on July 15, we have three signed copies to give away.



Solve this clue:

T O Thing W H T F I F I

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.