Dani, spending the summer with her best friend, Ella, while her father recuperates from an accident, is dismayed to discover that he has a girlfriend.
In this fourth collaboration between writer Lagercrantz and illustrator Eriksson, Dani is spending school summer break (her first!) at “an island in the sea” with Ella and her family. The reason for this is that Dani’s father, Gianni, was hit by a car and must stay in the hospital for several months. While the writing is fairly simple, the story is not simplistic. The central topic—Dani’s missing her father and her feelings of betrayal when she discovers he has a girlfriend—is augmented by the flexible nuclear family models presented: Gianni is Dani’s sole parent, Ella has an “extra father,” Paddy, and cousin Sven has no father. Lagercrantz’s superb writing in Marshall’s translation is touching and amusing without being saccharine, and her playful narrative cadence bounces back and forth between past and present tense. Eriksson’s black-and-white illustrations add important emotional resonance to the mostly white cast of characters (Ella’s and her mother’s kinky hair may lead some readers to see them as black). How the dilemma of reconciling Dani to her father’s girlfriend is managed is very clever, and everyone—readers included—will be satisfied.
Another sterling early chapter book by this duo. (Fiction. 5-8)