Children's Literature - Claudia Mills
"The Pain" is what third-grader Abigail calls her younger brother; "The Great One" is what first-grader Jake calls his older sister. Each thinks regarding the other one: "I don't get why Mom and Dad think she's [he's] so special. Sometimes I think they love her [him] more than me." In this third title of Judy Blume's chapter book series based on her earlier classic The Pain and the Great One, Blume once again shows her deep and abiding understanding of sibling dynamics. In alternating chapters narrated by the Pain and the Great One, the kids squabble during a beach outing, brave the Gravitron ride at the county fair, deal with a "furry booger" of a pussy willow lodged in the Pain's nose, get lost and found at the food court at the mall, and fly to visit Grandpa Pete in Florida. It is all simple stuff but Blume shows that the carefully observed relationship between two quarreling, jealous, mutually irritatingand lovingsiblings can still make for a series of utterly satisfying stories, enhanced by Stevenson's abundance of energetic and expressive drawings. Reviewer: Claudia Mills, Ph.D.
School Library Journal
Abigail (the Great One) and Jake (the Pain) are back. The theme for this book is traveling, whether it is as close as the local mall, showcasing the Pain's attempt to walk down the up escalator, or as far as the Florida Everglades, where the Great One tries to keep from being bitten by alligators by wearing her leather cowboy boots. An emergency room trip to get a pussy willow removed from the Pain's nose will make readers laugh out loud. The nine short stories beautifully capture the experiences of siblings who love one another but who don't always get along. Their long-suffering cat, Fluzzy, gets his own chapter at the end. Stevenson's drawings perfectly complement the tales. Blume has delivered another funny story collection about two memorable characters.-Kathleen Meulen, Blakely Elementary School, Bainbridge Island, WA
First- and third-graders Jake and Abigail alternate as narrators to describe a series of trips: boogie boarding at the beach, riding the Gravitron at an amusement park, visiting the emergency room, losing each other in the mall and canoeing the Everglades. The focus is always on the siblings, although adults-extended family and in one case a babysitter-accompany them. A bonus episode is told by the cat, Fluzzy, whose response to their trips is completely convincing. Each story is simply told with quiet humor, sometimes more a vignette than a rounded narrative-but, as always, Blume gets right to the hearts of her characters, revealing their fears, their resentments and their affection for each other. Stevenson's grey-washed cartoon illustrations enliven the pages. Each chapter can stand on its own, making this particularly accessible for the struggling reader. This is the third of a projected quartet of chapter books, sure to be welcomed as enthusiastically as its predecessors were. (Fiction. 6-9)