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EUNICE AND KATE by Mariana Llanos


by Mariana Llanos ; illustrated by Elena Napoli

Pub Date: Feb. 11th, 2020
ISBN: 978-0-9996584-7-5
Publisher: Penny Candy

Eunice and Kate are always together, but each must learn to appreciate the other for who she truly is.

Eunice and Kate live in “side-by-side apartments,” where their mothers do laundry in the same basement and chat while Eunice and Kate share their dreams. Eunice dreams of being a ballerina; Kate dreams of being an astronaut. Both girls’ loving moms work to make ends meet. One day at school, when it’s time to draw a portrait of each other, “they opened their eyes and observed.” Readers might think Eunice and Kate are going to notice their physical differences—Eunice is white with brown hair, and Kate is black with tall, puffy hair. But it’s their friend’s dreams that they question. Eunice draws Kate as a ballerina, and Kate draws Eunice as an astronaut. When they exchange drawings, each says, “That’s not me.” That night, after their mothers recognize some accuracy in the portraits, each girl decides to make a new drawing, featuring both of them combining their dreams. The text alternates between the girls at each page turn, which mostly works but sometimes feels a bit forced, as do the pages about their mothers; the structure is not quite enough to give the story a cohesive feel. The cartoon illustrations dramatize thoughts and feelings with expressive faces, close-ups, and a range of layouts.

Despite some structural weaknesses, a thoughtful treatment of what it means to be a friend.

(Picture book. 4-8)