Daisy Woodworm Changes the World

Jolly Fish. Nov. 2022. 288p. pap. $14.99. ISBN 9781631636370.
Gr 5 Up–Thirteen-year-old Daisy Woodward is having a tough time in eighth grade. Her parents are struggling financially and have started a business picking up dog poop, she’s competing in cross country with old and ill-fitting running shoes, and she is picked on at school for her lisp. When her social studies teacher Mr. Lipinsky tells the class that each student must work on a project to change the world for the better, Daisy panics. What can she do to make an impact? And how can she possibly give an oral report to the class, knowing that several boys will tease her? One of the boys, Miguel, decides to fundraise for the Special Olympics, which had been cancelled that year. Daisy is extremely invested in this, as her older brother Sorrel, nicknamed Squirrel, has Down syndrome and is an athlete. She decides to focus on making Squirrel a social media star as per his wishes for her project; her parents are absolutely against Squirrel doing anything to get attention, as it might be negative, and therefore devastating, for him. Hart successfully weaves a number of issues into the novel: disabilities, bullying, making a difference, allowing children to follow their dreams, differences in socioeconomic backgrounds, and more. Characters evolve and even the worst bully turns out to have depth by the end of the book. Readers will relate to Daisy’s worries and triumphs. Portrayals of teens with Down syndrome are sympathetic and realistic. Hart provides social media resources at the end of the book.
VERDICT This realistic fiction title skillfully discusses a number of topics relevant to today’s young readers, and belongs in most collections.

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