In rhymed couplets, this debut book displays the challenges of sharing with a little sister.
Narrated by Phoebe—who has a sister, Audrey—this first story in a planned series begins in summer, when heat is making the girls so irritable that they are no longer kind to each other. Every time Phoebe asks Audrey to share their teapot, Audrey yells, Phoebe screams, and Audrey pulls Phoebe’s hair. Soon, Phoebe grabs and then throws the teapot, hitting Audrey’s foot. Without saying sorry, Phoebe heads for the shade of a tree and voices aloud her wish for Audrey to share. Immediately, a winged lady appears and reveals a sharing spell that involves giving Audrey leaves from a magical tree, coupled with kisses. Phoebe expects everything to be easy now that she has a magic spell, but it takes perseverance—as well as magic, a whole lot of leaves and kisses, and a change of seasons—for the sisters to finally get along. The text doubles as a playground for graphical elements by Leshay and James Renald: The word “burn” is on fire, while “shake” imitates quivering. The impressive black-and-white photographs invite deeper attention, but they can sometimes feel separate from the story. For example, depending on mood and angle, Audrey looks so different that young readers may find it difficult to figure out whom to follow. At times, the text is also confusing, as when Audrey rather randomly tells a stuffed bunny it can’t have a car—“No car for Woo Wabbit!” Still, as part of a read-along, the uncommonly artful photos plot a refreshing path toward a heartfelt message.
Little girls who are willing to work a bit for their understanding are likely to enjoy this wonderfully illustrated story with its successful treatment of text as graphics and some fresh ideas about sharing.