A forthright early chapter book about resilience.
From the author-illustrator team that created My Happy Life (2013), this Swedish import also features Dani and her best friend, Ella. Dani still misses Ella, who has moved away, and Dani won’t let anyone sit at Ella’s desk just in case she comes back. Although her teacher tells her Ella is not coming back, Dani is “not one to give up hope.” At lunchtime, thinking Dani needs to make new friends, her teacher seats her between two other girls, Vicky and Mickey, who proceed to bully and pinch Dani. In self-defense, Dani squirts them with sauce, getting some on the teacher too. Appalled, she runs home, where her father confronts her. All is sorted out in an age-appropriate way (the villains refuse to apologize; Dani tells them she forgives them anyway), and Dani continues to choose an optimistic view of life—buoyed by the unexpected appearance of Ella (for just one day). Lagercrantz writes an honest tale about the challenges of life, allowing her protagonist to feel sadness, confusion and loss as well as giving her agency in choosing joy. Eriksson’s pen-and-ink illustrations, with their expressive body language, expertly bring the text to life.
This deeply respectful book validates and celebrates the daily challenges of being a child in today’s world. (Fiction. 5-8)