So Who is “The Daisy” Really Meant For?

As I described in my Introduction post, when searching for a book to use for this project, I wanted to find something that I could connect back to work I am doing in my other courses. Before even holding and looking through the book, I was interested in The Daisy because, on the Special Collections website, it was described as being a children’s book. As an education major, I found this to be something I could tie back into my work with younger, pre-school aged students.

Before beginning, it is important to recognize that The Daisy has two different intended audience members: the reader and the buyer. Aside from the description on the Special Collections website, there are a wide range of additions and clues that reveal who the intended reader of The Daisy is. Two textual clues that give away who the intended reader is are two of the first few pages of the book: an advertisement page and the following copyright page. The advertisement page, as I spoke about in my Additions post, includes three other books published by the same publishers, and all include introductions by Charles Walsh (C. W.). At the top of this advertisement page, the header reads: “Facsimile Reprints of Popular Children’s Books of the Olden Time.” From the book, this was my first clue that the intended reader was younger children. Following the advertisement page is the copyright page. The top of the copyright page includes the title of the book, The Daisy or Cautionary Stories Told in Verse, and directly under that reads: “Adapted to the ideas of children, from four to eight years old.” This textual piece of the book very clearly confirms that the intended reader is young children.

Left: Advertisement; Right: Copyright

When saying “Adapted,” I’m not entirely sure what they are referring to, and research has not cleared up much confusion. I was able to find that a “Facsimile Reprint” is a higher quality printed and bound book this is almost a duplicate of the original work. Like in The Daisy, it is common to add a modern introduction, written to provide information about the original work and its author. When reading the Introduction, C. W. explains that these stories are all the same as the original ones that Elizabeth Turner (and her brother) wrote,  and gave some background information on how this book came to be reprinted (see Additions post). Combining the information provided in the Introduction with what I found about facsimile reprints, it is say to say that thing being adapted in this book is not the actual stories. The illustrations are new to this version of the book, but there were no pictures in the original, so these illustrations were also not adapted, they were just additions.

I assume that “adapted” is in reference to the way in which the stories are written. Since these are called Cautionary Stories in Verse, many of the stories are about life lessons and how to be a proper member of society, and the language used was adapted to be suitable for a young reader. This way, from an early age, children can begin learning about and practicing the appropriate ways to be in society. For example, the story The Giddy Girl is about a young girl who was “too giddy” to listen to what her mother would tell her. When her mother warned her not to go near a dangerous well, and she didn’t listen and ended up falling in and drowning. This story cautions children to listen to what their parents say, but is adapted to appeal to younger children though its rhyming, short lines, and pictures. The way the story reads appeals to the intended reader – children – and the meaning and cautioning behind the stories appeals to the intended buyer – parents/guardians.

   

The intended buyers are parents/guardians because these stories, The Giddy Girl for example, caution children to listen to their parents, to follow societal norms, and to follow different unwritten rules of society through entertainment. A parent/guardian buying this book, I assume, is wanting to teach their children all of these unwritten rules, and using a rhyming book with lots of pictures can get the job done without any backlash from the children.

Along with textual evidence, there are a multitude of physical pieces of evidence that show that this book’s intended reader is children. Starting from the appearance of the book, it is small enough to be held by little hands easily. It is also a lightweight

Size reference for The Daisy

book, so a child would be able to hold the book in bed, take it off of a shelf or a table with ease, or hand it to a parent to read. This is important because larger, heavier books are not only physically harder for young children to hold, but they are also physically off putting to a younger child. Smaller books are more appealing because they are easier for children to access. Similarly, the book has a hard, cardboard cover with a plain green fabric covering. This further emphasizes the fact that this book is made for children because not a lot of detail was put into the design of the book. A book made for display or for a more sophisticated, older audience would have a more detailed and intricate cover.The lack of detail in the cover of The Daisy shows that the publishers and bookbinders   knew that this book was going to children, and that it was going to be read a lot. There was a greater chance of the book being damaged, so there was no need for an intricate, delicate cover. What was important was creating something that could withstand the abuse small children give to books. Also, children don’t really care what is on the outside of the book unless it is a picture of what is inside the book.

Moving to the physical traits of the inside of the book, flipping through the stories it becomes even more clear that this book is intended to be read by children. Each story is paired with a picture, and in each of these pictures, a child is the main focus. In children’s books, the inclusion of pictures is common because it helps grab a child’s attention, and it helps the child better understand what they are reading. Having a child be the main focus of the picture shows that each story is about children, and helps the reader get a better idea of what they are going to read. Moving to the physical look of the text, each story is very short and is written in large, spaced out writing. Like I explained in my Additions post, the reason for this is because children between the 4- and 8-years-old are learning to read. For people learning to read, especially children, it is easier and less intimidating to practice reading on your own when there isn’t a lot of text on the page. Also, since this is a children’s book, it is likely that this was read to children at night. Short stories make it easier to pick up the pick and read a few pages before bed, and then put it down to pick up another day, which is also appealing to the intended buyer – parents/guardians – because, when putting the children to bed, short stories are ideal because they wont take as long to read. There isn’t a general plot to follow, so the reader wont need to remember what was already read or need to worry about what order to read the stories in, which, again, is appealing to parents/guardians because this they wont need to worry about having to reread certain parts of the book or having to reexplain what was read the night before. They can get through a story or two and read new ones the next time they pick up the book.

Here are three examples of illustrations from The Daisy: