July 16, 2019

Dancing with Daisy

Written by Jan L. Coates
Illustrated by Josée Bisaillon
Running the Goat, Books & Broadsides
44 pp.
Ages 4-8
June 2019

Dancing with Daisy is a grandfather's story told to a grandchild intrigued by an album of old photos and memories. It's also a a fisherman's story so you know it might be a bit of a tall tale.
From Dancing with Daisy, text by Jan L. Coates, art by Josée Bisaillon
"Back in '62 it was, a frosty fall day." So begins this fisherman's tale of the onslaught of Hurricane Daisy as she "came roaring up the coast. She whirled and spun and whipped the waves into such a frenzy, they started leaping straight up onto the deck."
From Dancing with Daisy, text by Jan L. Coates, art by Josée Bisaillon
In true tall tale fashion, the grandfather exaggerates Daisy's impact as she  throws him onto an island and tugs and grabs at him to draw him into a dance. His wrinkles are the result of Daisy trying to bribe him with dollars that sliced into his skin and created scars. His arthritic hands came from clutching the branches of the tree and his blue veins resulted from her freezing cold breath. His raspy voice came from barking communications with a seal washed up on shore and he lost his hair when Daisy grabbed at his hair, playing "He loves me, he loves me not."
From Dancing with Daisy, text by Jan L. Coates, art by Josée Bisaillon
He returned to shore first on a handcrafted raft and then upon his own home's red roof, walking seven back-breaking miles before losing his teeth that ended up as icebergs. Daisy only abandoned her quest to dance with the man after "Nana went out and gave her a good talking to."
From Dancing with Daisy, text by Jan L. Coates, art by Josée Bisaillon
The grandfather undoubtedly remembers every detail of his harrowing assault on his fishing boat while besieged by Hurricane Daisy which tracked through the Maritimes in early October of 1962. It took six lives in Canada and smashed fishing boats, piers, and buildings with its rainfall and high winds. But the grandfather of Jan L. Coates's story protects his grandchild from the devastating truths of Daisy's impact and instead makes it into a tall tale that explains his aging, its own overwhelming trial, even ending with a good laugh.

Josée Bisaillon's art is a wonderful accompaniment to Jan L. Coates's story, taking readers to the Atlantic coast of colourful buildings, cold grey waters and tumultuous weather through her illustrations of watercolours, pastels, pencil and cut paper. Presenting the wind is a formidable task but Josée Bisaillon conveys movement and power in the water and the sky without restraint. It may be scary and mighty but it's still playful in its dance, and with the affectionate closeness of grandparent and child, Dancing with Daisy becomes more intergenerational tale, even if a little tall, than recall of a disaster.


Running the Goat Books & Broadsides shares a video of Jan L. Coates discussing her story and background for Dancing with Daisy on YouTube.

Uploaded to YouTube by Running the Goat on June 27, 2019.


  1. Thank you, Helen, for all that you do for Canadian kids' books!

    1. You are most welcome, Jan. It’s a labour of love when I am privileged to read so many wonderful books by Canadian authors and illustrators.

  2. Another wonderful book by Jan Coates. I love the illustrations too.