Title: Daisy and the Doll
Author: Michael and Angela Medearis
Illustrator: Larry Johnson
Publisher: August House
Flesch-Kinkaid Grade Level: 3.5
Concepts: discrimination, education
Review: Jessie Daisy Turner, an eight year old child in the late 1800s, lives with her parents and twelve siblings on a beautiful Vermont farm surrounded by daisies. Her father had settled in Vermont after he escaped from slavery in Virginia and joined the Union Army. Daisy is one of the only children of color in her classroom, and she is both embarrassed and angry when the teacher, in assigning poems to read and props to hold for a school program, singles Daisy out by giving her a doll with a black face. That moment was the first time someone had treated Daisy differently due to her skin color, and Daisy had trouble making sense of this experience.
Ultimately, Daisy is able to use her courage and her talent as a poet to show her teacher, classmates, and the community the importance of speaking out about race and racial equality. Based on a true story, Daisy and the Doll provides readers with an important reminder of the hurtful feelings associated with discrimination, even if the person responsible for the treatment may not have intended to be cruel. Although the book focuses on race, the astute reader will also notice an interesting discussion point related to gender, given that the teacher assigned dolls only to the girls.
Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children