The fifth installment in the Swedish early chapter series featuring Dani, a young white girl.
Dani is starting second grade, and although she still misses her “best friend in the whole world,” Ella (who has moved), she is overjoyed that her father, Gianni, has returned home after a summer of hospitalization following an accident. She is also looking forward to the class trip to Skansen Zoo. But at Skansen, two of Dani’s classmates tell her she looks like the monkeys, and Dani runs off. Lo and behold, she runs into Ella, whose unruly class is also visiting. The two sneak off to play, and Dani realizes that Ella is unhappy in her new class, which makes Dani unhappy. Lagercrantz expertly and respectfully weaves themes of moving on, resilience, and friendship; Eriksson’s black-and-white illustrations give heart and warmth. (In the illustrations, everyone’s skin is the white of the paper, but racial differences are hinted at in facial features and hair.) The beauty and magic of these books is that, while they are full of sweetness, they embrace reality. Dani is not ready to let Sadie, the nurse her father fell in love with over the summer, into her life and acts out. And Dani’s maternal grandmother (Dani’s mother died five years earlier) sides with Dani, a sophisticated insertion that is in line with Dani’s (and presumably, readers’) growing maturity.
A story about making life whole—that’s also really funny. (Fiction. 5-8)