CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 38 . . . . June 1, 2012
Daisy loves a lot of things. She loves riding her bike, picking dandelions, and reading in the sunshine. So when Daisy's favourite teacher announces that she is getting married and moving away, Daisy wants to give her teacher the best gift she can, something that her teacher will love. She searches the neighbourhood, her bedroom, and asks everyone she knows about what the best gift would be, but it's not easy to find. It's only when Daisy looks inside herself that she comes up with an idea, for Daisy loves words. She loves short words and long words, sad words and happy words, words for a rainy day, and even made-up words. She then starts the search for the most original gift of all to give to Ms. Goldner – the perfect word.
Daisy's Perfect Word is a good book for early readers wanting to make their first steps into chapter books. The sentences are simple and well crafted, and the plot will appeal to eager early readers. Daisy is a very happy protagonist who is easy to follow through her journey to find the perfect word. She does many activities that are relatable to an early reader, particularly girls. The narrative flows through the week, and the reader gets to see Daisy in many different situations at home, with her friends, and at school. Adding to the charm of the book are Susan Mitchell's pencil drawings of Daisy and her world. These come in all sizes, adding small detail drawings at the top of each chapter, and larger scene drawings of Daisy interacting with the people in her world. These drawings add to the story without feeling like a picturebook, something that early chapter book readers will find comforting but not too young. They will also enjoy Daisy's word lists that she makes during different times of her quest. These lists are included in the back of the book, along with a glossary of some of the larger words used in the story. There is one blank page as well, allowing readers to add to the list if they wish. Certainly young aspiring writers may find themselves inspired to make a few word lists of their own based on Daisy's Perfect Word. Feder has also found subtle ways to work definitions into her storyline without seeming vocabulary heavy or overbearing. Without being too preachy, the book elevates the idea of giving original, non-material gifts, and the gift of laughter being one that is universal. This book will no doubt be a favourite among early elementary school teachers to show the power of words and garner interest in reading.
Stacey Matson has worked in educational and interpretive programming in cultural/historic sites across Canada. She is currently pursuing her MA in children's literature at the University of British Columbia.
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