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From Pictures to Words - a guide to choosing books for beginner readers: Rhyme


Dimanche Diller by Henrietta Branford
Published by Collins Children’s Books, 1994
ISBN 0-00-674748-5
Illustrations © Lesley Harker, 1994

Dimanche Diller won the Smarties Book Prize in 1994. The story is a challenging one and is probably best suited to readers aged at least 8. In the opening paragraph we are advised not to look forward to a happy ending because fate has dealt the heroine, Dimanche several cruel blows.

Dimanche’s woes began after a kind fisherman and his wife decided to hand her over to the village priest, having found her little body adrift on the Mediterranean Sea.

When the evil Valburga Vilemile, posing as Dimanche’s aunt, notices an old advertisement in the personal column of The Times detailing the shipwreck and the history of baby Dimanche, it’s all she needs to develop a plan to get rich.

Even Polly Pugh, Dimanche’s nanny and true friend cannot prevent this evil woman from trying to kill her on many occasions. “Teach the child deep-sea diving,” she suggested as soon as Dimanche could swim. “Never mind the treacherous tides, you mustn’t mollycoddle her,” she would say in yet another effort to get her hands on Dimanche’s vast inheritance.

This is a story full of adventure which will capture the imagination and sustain the reader’s interest right to the end.

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