Originally published in September 2013. One of my top five favorites of the year for its sweet nature and originality.
By Steve Voake, Illustrated by Jessica Meserve
Publisher: Candlewick; Reprint edition (March 24, 2009)
Available in: paperback, hardcover
At the time of this review, there were seven Daisy Dawson books available through various publishers.
What a charmer!
Daisy Dawson is a quiet, innocent, tender, positive, sweet girl who just happens to get distracted. A lot. She is often told not to dawdle, and that alliteration and creative use of language is just one of the joys of this chapter book.
But there are actually three very distinct aspects of this book I love.
1. The subtle yet inventive, surprisingly thrilling plot. It starts slow, and you get the idea that Daisy will be a lovely, nature-centered, quiet book. And then it explodes into a tense, nail-biting drama. Still, it retains the simple, evocative, nature-centered core. Brilliant. Also, the use of animals and their relation to Daisy and the plot is enchanting.
2. The deceptively artful illustrations. At first glance they feel very bulky and rough—almost as if they were drawn with a big marker. But on closer inspection, Meserve’s deft skill brings out sensitive emotion and feeling with simplicity and contrasting use of bold and light treatments. I find it reminiscent of Japanese calligraphy: modest, unassuming and yet powerful.
Side note here: the front matter of the book lists the media used (ink and pencil). Now why isn’t this done more often? How many times have we wondered, How was that done? And if the art media were listed more often, would kids be inspired to try techniques they otherwise might not consider? I personally love that it’s listed and wish that were a more common practice.
But, back to the highlights….
3. The language. It respects kids and their intellect. The writing avoids being pompous or presumptuous, but it brings in a vocabulary and clever descriptive quality that is rare in chapter books. The prose is elegant and smart, but still simple and clear.
Daisy Dawson Is on Her Way! respects kids with gorgeous but not too advanced language. It’s heart and soul wrapped in nerve-racking drama. It shows clear insight into how a child can live in the moment, and yet it places children squarely in our modern world. Daisy is one refreshing charmer who the quieter child, somewhere between ages five and eight, will love as a new chapter book friend.
What do you say teachers, parents and writers? Use the comment below and let’s chat….