Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Emma Dilemma Big Sister Poems

Horn Book (January/February, 2011)
A picture book aimed squarely at girls with younger sisters hits its mark with thirty-four poems that cover the highs and lows of big sisterhood. Fourth-grader Jess describes daily life with almost-four-year-old Emma, who adores and simultaneously annoys her sister. The straightforward, honest poems contain a whole range of feelings: embarrassment ('Soccer Game': 'My friends are cracking up, / pointing at that little kidÉwho's jumping up and downÉwaving her feather boa '); fury ('Trespass': 'Someone / drew a face / on my soccer ball. / Someone is hiding / and had better hope / I never find her'); affection ('Emma's Hand': 'Emma's hand is / just the right size / to fit / inside mine'); and pure terror ('Below': 'Emma, so small / below me / on the ground. / Not moving. / Just crying'). Likewise, Carpenter's illustrations capture both the endearing and irritating qualities of preschool-aged girls, while the expressions on Jess's face capture every nuance of her feelings about Emma. To top it off, the poems and art tell an absorbing story -- complete with a few tense moments and a warm, believable conclusion -- widening the audience and making this book more than just an opportunity for big sisters to nod their heads in total recognition. JENNIFER M. BRABANDER

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