Kirkus Star


Email this review


The very best easy readers also succeed as picture books or read-alone fiction that a child would choose to read as an entertaining story rather than an educational exercise. Little and Plecas achieve that unusual status with their second collaboration about Emma (Emma's Magic Winter, 1998), a shy little girl with an African-American best friend, Sally, who lives next door with her little brother, Josh. Emma's family is adopting a four-year-old boy named Max, and Emma has unrealistic big-sister ideas that don't correspond to the angry little boy who grabs the cookies and breaks her doll. Max takes an immediate shine to Emma's friend Sally, who knows how to talk to four-year-olds, and over time Sally helps Emma learn how to be a big sister. Gradually (and skillfully), Little shows how both Max and Emma accept the new situation, all the while illustrating the difficult feelings experienced by all members of a family in the midst of the adoption transition. She works in quite a bit of information about the process, including mention of social-worker visits, transitional visits by the adoptee, and the purpose of foster families. Her understated dialogue and simple but effective plot incidents are the work of an accomplished pro who clearly has mastered the dictum of ""show, don't tell."" Appealing watercolor-and-ink illustrations by Plecas perfectly complement this longer I Can Read book, which is divided into short chapters for readers prepared for a more extended story that still uses controlled vocabulary. A first choice for most libraries and an excellent book to recommend to families with adopted or foster children. (Easy reader. 4-8)

ISBN: 0064442586
Page count: 64pp
Publisher: HarperCollins