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Saturday, September 15, 2012

Daisy's Perfect Word, written by Sandra V Feder and illustrated by Susan Mitchell. Kids Can Press, 2012. $15.95 ages 5 and up

"Daisy loved the sound of engaged. It sounded as if it must be splendid. And when Miss Goldner explained what an engagement was - a promise to be married - Daisy knew it was splendid. But it was also sad, because at the end of the school year, Miss Goldner would be moving away."

Daisy is one of those optimistic, friendly, keen-on-the-world girls. She loves words, she loves school and she loves her teacher, Miss Goldner. Miss Goldner is one of those empowering, agreeable, kid-loving teachers whose presence brings joy to her students. That is seen when she announces that she is getting married and will be leaving her job to move with her husband to live elsewhere. The children are saddened to know she will not be there when the next school year begins. A decision is made that they will each bring her an engagement gift.

Daisy is also very thoughtful; she spends a great deal of time and gives much thought to the perfect gift for her beloved teacher. As a lover of words, Daisy keeps collections of her favorite words 'in a green notebook covered with purple polka dots'. She does not add to those lists until she has determined the new word is worthy of the precious space. The word for her teacher must be right from all perspectives...not too long and not too short, useful while also exciting, just right for kids and teachers, not too light and airy. Daisy thinks about that perfect word ALL the time.

One evening when she is taking a break from her problem, she offers to put her little sister to bed. It is while they are reading and enjoying the bedtime rituals that she happens upon the solution:

"As Daisy tickled her, Lily laughed and laughed. And that's when it came to Daisy - the perfect word for Miss Goldner! Daisy couldn't believe her good luck, She kissed Lily good-night and ran back to her room. The word was so perfect that she wrote it in her notebook on its very own page."

The next morning when Miss Goldner has opened each of her many gifts, Daisy makes an announcement:

"This word is perfect for Miss Goldner," Daisy said. "It's great for saying loudly and for whispering softly. It's not too long or too short, and I know both kids and grown-ups like it. It's not a made-up world, but it sounds like it could be, and it sure feels good in your mouth."

She's's just the thing!

This early years novel will find fans for its accessibility as readers move from story book to short chapter book form. The illustrations are appealing, the short chapters make it move quickly and they will like Daisy, her friends, her thoughtfulness toward her teacher and also anticipate that perfect word. The addition of Daisy's word lists (all with space for adding another, so long as the book belongs to the reader) and a 'golden glossary' add appeal, and encouragement to try something the same when the reading is done.

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