Two rabbit sisters prepare for Christmas together, but only one sister gets to meet Santa on Christmas Eve.
Big sister Greta makes all the decisions, does all the talking, and gets all the attention, while little sister Gracie is cautious and deliberate, quiet and polite. Ismail’s hilarious story is cleverly told with just a few lines of narrative text per page, stating the basic developments of the plot in an understated way while the deeper subtext unfolds through speech balloons set in a typeface that looks like a child’s printing. Garrulous Greta has plenty to say in her domineering way, while little Gracie asks innocent questions and tries to state her own preferences. When a store clerk asks Gracie what she thinks Santa is like, Greta butts in with a long, page-filling answer, followed by Gracie’s succinct, “He is magic.” On Christmas Eve, Gracie gets up by herself and bravely goes through the dark house to the living room. She shares cookies and conversation with Santa Claus himself (a white human), and on Christmas morning, Greta learns that quiet little sisters sometimes come out on top. Vibrant, loose watercolor illustrations integrate seamlessly with the text, with multiple pastel speech balloons expertly worked into the art in creative ways.
This one has it all: original characters, an exciting plot, dazzling illustrations, and the triumph of an underdog (or underbunny). More Greta and Gracie, please. (Picture book. 3-7)