Once Upon a Time (Niki Daly)

In South Africa, a young girl named Sarie walks to school and back every day. She doesn't mind the walk - it's school that troubles her. When Mr. Adonis tells the class to open their reading books, Sarie gets a bad feeling in her stomach. The words jumble, and get all mixed up. All the kids in her class laugh at her stuttering, but not Emile, a shy boy who just watches her. He knows the others are just jealous because Sarie is beautiful. On Sundays, Sarie and her Auntie Anna go on imaginary rides in auntie's old car - a rusty old thing with missing wheels. They tell each other stories, and Sarie explains her feelings about school. One Sunday, Sarie finds a book in the back seat of the car, a copy of "Cinderella." They read together, building Sarie's confidence. After practicing, she becomes a beautiful reader. This charming book about the power of reading and writing includes gorgeous illustrations, also by Niki Daly. Daly tells a great story, in one short book, and his illustrations paint a genuine picture of life in South Africa, where he lives. Other books by Daly include "Jamela's Dress," "Happy Birthday, Jamela," "Bettina Valentino and the Picasso Club" and "Old Bob's Brown Bear." I recommend this book for ages 4-9.

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