Room Enough for Daisy is a children’s book by Debby Waldman and Rita Feutl. It’s based on an Eastern European Jewish folktale, which describes a man who lives in a small house that he finds too cramped and noisy. The man seeks advice from the local rabbi, who suggests to him that he gradually moves more and more of the animals from his farm into his house. The house becomes even more cramped and noisy and, eventually, completely unbearable. At this point, the rabbi tells the man to move the animals back out again. Suddenly the man feels his house is perfectly big enough, despite it exactly being the same size it was before.
There have been many versions of this story over the years, for example, It Could Always be Worse by Margot Zemach, Big Quiet House by Heather Forest and The Little Little House by Jessica Souhami. We bought this version mainly because it has the words “room enough” in the title, but also because the story has been adapted to make it relevant to children in today’s society, without the need for you or your kids to think too much. The main character, Daisy, is a young girl who wants a bigger bedroom to accommodate all the new things she has requested for her birthday. Daisy’s mother brings more and more of Daisy’s old toys into her already cluttered bedroom. Daisy’s room becomes so full of toys, that she keeps tripping over and ends up covered in bruises. By the end of the story Daisy (clearly a lot smarter than the man in the original story) realises herself that the toys are the problem, not the size of the room, and packs up all but her most treasured ones to give to charity.
The story is about appreciating what you’ve got, realising that you have the power to change yourself even when you can’t change external factors and about space being all in your head (or at least partly so). It’s deep man. So, what has our 2 and a half year old taken away from this? Sweaty socks in a toilet bowl.
He does understand that Daisy wants a bigger bedroom, and he understands the general gist of the story, but he is too young for it really (the book is meant for ages 4 and up). Despite his limited understanding, our son loves this book. He often asks to read Room Enough for Daisy and, in true toddler fashion, he then requests several re-readings of it. Each time we get to the sentence that includes the words “sweaty socks in a toilet bowl” he laughs away to himself. On one occasion, he ran to the other side of the living room, grabbed his drum, climbed back onto the sofa, put the drum on his lap and started to play a beat. He then tunelessly sang at the top of his voice “sweaty socks in a toilet BOWWWWL”. I hadn’t realised at this point that he was performing a serious piece of music and unfortunately I laughed. I was severely reprimanded for this, which made me laugh more and more uncontrollably, as he continued to bang the drum and sang these words over and over again.
The book has nice pictures and a good story, but there’s plenty of better written and illustrated kids books out there. It’s a bit wordy and it ain’t no Gruffalo. Also, as the book is American, it is full of Americanisms like “mom”, “closet” and “rummage sale”. When I read it, in my head I hear myself doing a bad American accent and this annoys me. When I say the words out loud I attempt to translate them into UK English, but this takes a bit of extra brain power that the more pregnant I am, the more I lack.
However, I like that Room Enough for Daisy communicates its anti-consumerist message in a way that is really accessible for children. It’s great if you want some small space propaganda to indoctrinate your kids with, and I’m all for a bit of light indoctrination. Why, only the other day our son, clearly way too young to understand politics, randomly started telling a friend of ours all about how “that David Cameron is trying to steal the hospital”, and I felt ever so proud.
Read this book with your kids, or any others that have a similar message? Comment below or take part in our Facebook group forum here.