GWENDOLYN GRACE by Katherine Hannigan


Age Range: 3 - 5
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Gwendolyn Grace, an anthropomorphic alligator, is having a hard time adjusting to being a big sister.

From offstage, an adult voice tells Gwendolyn Grace to “[s]top making so much noise,” because the baby is sleeping. The frontmatter pages have already established her as a boisterous, noisy girl, and on subsequent spreads, she enacts repeated, noisy scenarios—ostensibly to clarify whether certain activities fall under the admonition to be quiet. Of course, all of her antics do cross the line into “so much noise,” and page turns consistently deliver the offstage parent’s disapproval. A baby’s cries are never apparent, though, and when the exasperated mama finally sighs and calls Gwendolyn Grace to her, there is no dramatic scolding or change. Instead, the big sister whispers and asks if they can play when the baby is done sleeping, and Mama says yes while the baby slumbers on. Not even Gwendolyn Grace’s exuberant “Yay!” rouses the baby, and after so much high-spirited, onomatopoeic text and art, the culmination of the story lacks satisfying resolution. Gwendolyn Grace simply goes on being noisy, and the baby keeps sleeping. Hannigan’s brightly colored artwork has a certain expressive vitality, but while the illustrations do provide support for characterization (Gwendolyn Grace is one spunky alligator girl in her pink skirt), they do little to enhance the sparse narrative.

More character study than story. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: April 21st, 2015
ISBN: 978-0-06-234519-6
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Greenwillow
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 2015


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