Daphne's Book

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by Hahn, Mary Downing. (Avon Books, 1983 ISBN 0380723557. Paperback.) Novel. 166 pages. Grades 4+.
This book was reviewed by Carol Otis Hurst in Teaching K-8 Magazine.
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Review

Forced by their English teacher to work together in composing a picture book, Jessica and Daphne are both uncomfortable. Jessica is on the fringes of the class but at least she's not a pariah and Daphne is. As they work together, however, Jessica begins to like Daphne and her younger sister Hope. The two live with their demented grandmother under barely survivable conditions. Before their book is finished, Jessica and Daphne have had to reveal their most vulnerable spots to each other and Jessica has had to betray Daphne's trust.

The plot has many things in common with Janet Taylor Lisle's Afternoon of the Elves as both books involve secret home horrors that must be revealed by a friend entrusted with that secret. In the case of Daphne, the thing she most dreads, being put in a foster home, does happen and Jessica's guilt is clear.

Interestingly, Jessica's life is not a picture book one either. Her parents are divorced and her mother is very involved with her work. The typical seventh graders overwhelming need to belong is a subplot of the book and it complicates Jessica's feelings about Daphne and Hope. This is a book about friendship, thoughtless cruelty and real values. There is also the play on words in the title to discuss. Obviously, there is a book involved in the plot but is this novel itself also primarily Daphne's book?

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Related Areas of Carol Hurst's Children's Literature Site

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