Maple and Willow do just about everything in sweet, sisterly symbiosis.
Rain and shine, summer and winter, morning and night find the two girls (one bigger, with tight braids, the other littler, with spiky ponytails) together, usually speaking their own language: pig Latin. Pencil drawings on Mylar, enhanced with lots of fuzzy peachy pinks and leafy greens, show the girls transfixed in partnered play, their round heads and dot eyes oriented identically, scrutinizing books, worms, drawings and make-believe fairy houses. Nichols makes clever use of the book’s gutter, subtly and simply representing the invisible bridge that both connects the girls so seamlessly (and here quite beautifully) and also distinguishes them from each other. Maple calls most of the shots, as most big sisters do, and Willow doesn’t mind much, being an easygoing little. But everyone has their limits. “ADMAY!” screams Willow after being told what to do one too many times, and she stomps on Maple’s most special toy. Then comes a big push from Maple, tossing her little sister—slam—to the ground. Raw, real, and easily imagined by any child who’s finally had enough from a close friend, classmate, sister, brother (or even mommy or daddy). Sisterly love abides, of course, with pig Latin apologies all around.
Strong sibling bonds are perfectly described through spare language and artwork as lush as a forest of maple and willow trees. (Picture book. 2-6)