Saturday, 27 April 2019

Where Dani goes, happy follows Rose Lagercrantz

Where Dani goes, happy follows   
Rose Lagercrantz [author]
Eva Eriksson [illustrator]
Gecko (2019)
181 pages
Paperback   978 1 77657 226 7  (NZ$20)

This young novel is the sixth in the series My Happy Life, about cheerful Dani and her determination to maintain her friendship with Ella, who has moved to Northbrook. Once again Dani’s cheerful enthusiasm sweeps the story along making this the perfect series for young readers who are moving from picture books to novels.
As always the reader is enabled to spot signs that Dani has missed, such as her classmate Cushion’s interest in her.  (Cushion’s name is Alexander ‘but only when things get serious.’)
Cushion would like to sit next to Dani but she prefers an empty desk so that Ella can sit there if she comes back. Cushion tries admiring Dani’s artwork.
“Nice!” he said at last.
“Ugh!” Dani mumbled.
Dani’s father is sad and visiting his mother in Rome, so Dani is staying with her grandparents for a week. Then Dani has the bright idea of visiting Ella on her birthday (while wearing her Best Present headband). Her grandparents arrange for Dani to travel by herself to Northbrook by train. Dani copes well with the big adventure but when she arrives at the station, there is nobody to meet her. There has been a misunderstanding.
As usual Dani meets (small) disasters and as usual she has a rollercoaster ride of emotions before her father’s ex-girlfriend Sadie and Sadie’s sister Lisette (a police constable) arrive to help her sort things out.
Lisette makes an interesting comment, ‘This little girl needs a mother,’ which could be a good title for the whole series.
Dani now learns that her father and Sadie have broken off their engagement and there is a touching scene where Dani, sick in bed, is being nursed by Sadie. Almost unable to speak, Dani can only think the words she would like to say to beg Sadie to make up with her father.
You can change your mind, Dani wanted to say. But she couldn’t. She had no voice left.
Rose Lagercrantz is a brilliant and witty writer, so after six books, we feel that we know Dani and Ella very well, and look forward to their next (mis)adventure, which had better involve them being flower-girls.
Eva Eriksson’s charming illustrations which appear on almost every page emphasise the personalities involved.
The translation from the Swedish is by Julia Marshall.

Trevor Agnew  26 Jan 2019

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