Wednesday, April 2

Daisy Dawson is On Her Way

by Steve Voake
illustrated by Jessica Meserve
Candlewick 2008

Daisy is a daydreaming little girl who can't seem to get to school on time because she gets distracted along the way. There are worms to move off the sidewalk and butterflies to hold and release. And on this particular day she finds that something strange has happened, that she can speak with and understand animals. First it's with Boom, the dog, then with the hamsters at schools, then the horse and the barn cat, all with only the slightest bit of surprise on both sides.

Daisy isn't just a talker, she's a nurturer. When the hamsters get out of their cage at school she hears them exclaim with delight as they discover yummies in someone's lunch. She lures them back to their cage with a promise of a snack from her own lunch later. And with Boom she always backs an extra him a sandwich to feed him while on her way to school.

Trouble comes when Boom disappears and Daisy discovers that he's being held by the new dog catcher, one step away from disappearing for good. With help from the other animals they go on a rescue mission to save Boom. There's a happy ending, but not one the reader would have guessed, and Daisy's world is put to right. At the end Daisy muses with her father on the ability to talk to animals and there's a suggestion that it's something children can do naturally until one day when the magic of it wears off. For the time being, Daisy is enjoying her stay in this fantasy world.

I notice that the spine of this book is labeled with a "No. 1" implying that we've got more of Daisy coming at us in the future. There's an easy-breezy simplicity to the storytelling that makes it a good fit for young readers so I'm not troubled by this being the first in a series. I'm not sure how I'm going to feel if future books are always about Daisy talking to animals because I think that can wear thin pretty fast, but if talking animals happen to feature as part of stories dealing with a young girl and the flights of her imagination then I see no problems.

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