WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE, DANNY? by Helen Young

WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE, DANNY?

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The answer, to Danny, is virtually none: he's known, since he had his first convulsion at two, that he has epilepsy; but he's had only one seizure in school, the teachers know what to expect, the other children aren't ""embarrassed or frightened,"" everybody recognizes that he's bright--and now he's won the Sports Day swimming cup too. No one, however, has alerted new gym teacher Mr. Masterson; and when he finds out-from Danny himself, just when Danny looks to be a top competitor--he's horrified: what if Danny were to hurt himself? And isn't he especially likely to have a seizure, and hurt himself, under the stress of competition? Since there are no outright villains in this slice-of-life, the author has Mr. Masterson remain ignorant of the cup Danny won (""It would have made a lot of difference""). Danny, denied gym and swimming, turns glum, resentful, impossible. He doesn't want to tell his parents because ""he knew how pleased they were that epilepsy had made no difference at all to his life."" But finally his mother, stymied, contacts headmistress Miss North (yes, it's a British school), just when Miss No:th has decided to contact her. And they're talking just when Danny, playing truant in a desperate bid for attention (""Everybody but him seemed to have accepted the situation""), is--the book's first false note-saving a two-year-old from drowning in the local canal. So Danny's a hero, and Mr. Masterson admits to Danny how wrong he's been. The scene is handled with a finesse that almost compensates for the contrivance that occasions it; the rest of the book airs the problem of epilepsy with a directness and thoroughness that's rare--for any touchy problem-at this age level. And the only time one feels the least sympathy for Danny, a boy with lots of zip, is when he really merits it. A trifle too English for vast popularity, perhaps, but a good book to have around.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1981
Publisher: Deutsch--dist. by Elsevier/Dutton