Daisy’s Defining Day (2013), by Susan Feder and Susan Mitchell

This review was first published in Resource Links Magazine, “Canada’s national journal devoted to the review and evaluation of Canadian English and French resources for children and young adults.” It appears in volume 18.5.

Daisy’s Defining Day

Daisy and her classmates are learning the basics of poetics, starting with rhyming words, and moving on to alliteration. The story is peppered with uses of the two poetic techniques, which young readers will love. The language is fun, the story engaging, the messages subtle and effective.
More than most kids, “Daisy loved words. She kept track of her favorite words in a green notebook with purple polka dots” (8). When her neighbour, Grant, comes up with the rhyming nickname “Lazy Daisy,” which he “didn’t even have to think twice before saying” (21), she learns the power of words to hurt. She eventually comes up with a new name for herself that she feels defines her, and is hers because she chose it, but it turns out to be too long and complicated for people to use regularly. In this, she learns that words must be appropriate for effective communication. She still doesn’t like “Lazy Daisy,” though, and works hard to prove to Grant that she isn’t lazy. When Grant comments, “Too bad lazy doesn’t rhyme with my name,” Daisy realizes that his taunt has nothing to do with her work ethics, but was only a naïve pairing of sounds, not intended to hurt her: like her, Grant likes the way words sound together; she thus realizes that feeling hurt and angry was unnecessary. The overt message in Daisy’s Defining Day—other then the simple joy of having fun with words—is that communicating can solve problems. The hidden message is similar but more complex: what the speaker says and what the listener hears are not always the same, and both matter. This very important lesson in communication is subtle, but powerful enough that young readers will imbibe it along with the more obvious lessons presented.

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