cover image Daisy


Jessixa Bagley. Holiday House/Porter, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-8234-4650-6

Daisy the warthog is named after her mother’s favorite flower. Daisies may seem plain, Mama says, “but when you look closer you see their beauty.” The young warthog’s animal classmates, however, are unwilling to do so—they say Daisy looks “more like a thistle” than a bloom, and Daisy spends her days withdrawn and alone. She finds solace in collecting buttons, lost marbles, and other “old and useless items” that she believes have a hidden beauty like her own; they become decorations for the forest fort she creates, which Bagley (Curious Encounters), working in watercolor and pencil, draws as a place of play and wonder, with the everyday items strung throughout the tree canopy. When items that Daisy hasn’t scavenged begin appearing around the fort, she discovers that they’re from a classmate and new friend named Fern, a skunk who looks at the world the same way Daisy does. Some readers may feel that the mean girls are let off the hook or wish that Daisy was more defiant in the face of exclusion. But Bagley, always the soul of empathy, doesn’t focus on fixing Daisy or her situation. The story’s power—and genuine hope—comes from an author acknowledging and validating her protagonist’s feelings. Ages 4–8. [em]Agent: Alexandra Penfold, Upstart Crow Literary. (Feb.) [/em]