Every once in a while I come across a book that seems so sublime, that I wonder if it was written just for me. I don’t like pegging an age group on a book, because time and again I find picture books I want to read and re read. Picture books like this are for everyone, younger or older children and even adults! While aimed at young children, the themes in Daisy Dolls can touch anyone, any age. Set in rural China, which is depicted through peace inducing, gentle illustrations by Zhao Lei, Daisy Dolls tells the story of Hua, a doll maker. Each of Hua’s handmade dolls are decorated with a daisy, a flower she identifies with from her childhood. Whenever Hua sold a doll, she would feel sad even though she knew that it would comfort or bring joy to a little child. Hua makes dolls for different reasons, if a child is scared of the dark, if a child was lonely, and for many other reasons, Hua would whisper to each doll, biding them to comfort one child, or to keep a lonely child company. Almost every child in Hua’s town has a Daisy Doll, but soon Hua grows older, her eyesight feeble and her fingers shaky. She decides to keep her last doll for herself, and grows very attached to it, taking it along everywhere. Would anyone make her part with it? There is so much about this book that I absolutely love! The wonderful handwork that goes into each doll, the detailing, the feeling, the love. Her connection to her roots and how she keeps that alive. The compassion and caring with which she nurtures each doll as she creates them, gently prodding them to reach out to the children who needed them. The subtle way in which death is touched upon, something which is inevitable yet feared, dealt with in such ease. I hope my review does justice to this book. But if it hasn’t....let me spell it out.
This is a truly special book. And just btw....Daisy dolls written by Cao Wenxuan, and won the prestigious Hans Christian Andersen Award 2016. Karadi Tales has translated it to English.