A tender, whimsical look at growth, change, and sisters.

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO MY SISTER?

“I’d had my suspicions for a while…that someone had replaced my sister with a girl who looked a lot like her. It had to be!”

These words spread over the opening double-page spread, which presents a small girl kneeling on the floor, surrounded by scattered photographs and gazing disconsolately at a family album. On the next page, she is in a kitchen, staring at her big sister, who “was never so tall.” The art is arresting and amusing, a skillful combination of watercolor and other media, using a limited palette. Young readers with older siblings may recognize signs of adolescence considered typical in Western society: a sudden refusal to engage in childish games; secretiveness—“even when it wasn’t close to my birthday”—new intimacy with Mum; pervasive door-slamming. One telling, funny moment occurs when the protagonist turns to her sister’s friends for clues: “but something wasn’t right with them either. And it wasn’t just that a lot of them were boys.” This passage is accompanied by a lineup of wired-in, apathetic-looking teenagers. Despite stereotyping, the book is noteworthy for taking the viewpoint of a younger sibling instead of the more common theme of a beleaguered older child. Gently humorous art and text transform a simple story into a haven for children feeling temporarily sibling-wary.

A tender, whimsical look at growth, change, and sisters. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-909263-52-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Flying Eye Books

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2015

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Gentle on ear and eye, a keen display of relationships bound together in love and complexity.

IF I WAS THE SUNSHINE

A metaphor-rich venture that is far preferable to average Runaway Bunny read-alike fare.

Raising the bar for cutesy paeans to snuggly feelings, Fogliano uses surprising connections to telegraph love with frequently unexpected results. She begins, all in lowercase, with a gentle, “if i was the sunshine / and you were the day / i’d call you hello! // and you’d call me stay.” Never approaching syrupy, the comparisons range from the intuitive to the unpredictable. “if i was the silence / and you were a sound / i’d call you missing // and you’d call me found.” Soon it becomes clear that although love is common to each of these pairings, the emotion changes depending on the creature. “if you were a bird / and i was a tree / you’d call me home // and i’d call you free.” Readers are left understanding that what is going on here is far more than simple affection between parent and child. Her choice to eschew the subjunctive mood makes the comparisons seem tantalizingly possible. Jewel-toned images full of light, formed by sumptuous acrylic paints, bring the distant near and the miniscule close. Younger readers will wrap themselves in Long’s art while older kids strive to parse the meaning behind each of these gentle rhymes.

Gentle on ear and eye, a keen display of relationships bound together in love and complexity. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 7, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4814-7243-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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Both lovely and deeply empathetic.

WHAT A BEAUTIFUL MORNING

When old age takes its toll on Grandpa’s memory, Noah learns to value every moment with him.

Noah’s summer days with Grandpa are full of fun activities. They boom out a loud song together as they make morning coffee. More songs fill the air as they walk the dog before breakfast; when they return home, they get to eat Grandma’s special cinnamon French toast. One morning, Grandpa forgets how to cut his French toast and can’t remember who Noah is. Noah runs out of the house, a painful lump in his throat. Fortunately, Grandma is able to explain that Grandpa gets confused sometimes. “We have to appreciate what he still has.” Noah goes ahead, walking the dog by himself, feeding the birds, and plunking out one of Grandpa’s favorite tunes on the piano. Grandpa suddenly appears, his bright old self, singing the song at the top of his lungs. Levine treats his sensitive subject with simple pathos. Kath depicts a loving white trio; Noah’s parents are not in evidence, letting readers imagine either that he is a regular overnight visitor or that he lives with his grandparents. She uses color subtly, graying her movement-filled line-and-watercolor paintings for those moments when Grandpa forgets and filling them with color when he remembers. Readers who also find themselves with cognitively failing loved ones would do well to heed Noah’s wisdom as he plans “to go for as long as the song would last.”

Both lovely and deeply empathetic. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7624-5906-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Running Press Kids

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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