Two Girls in Sister Dressesby Jean Van Leeuwen, Linda Benson
Jennifer and her younger sister Molly experience the pangs and joys of rivalry and family love in five revealing episodes.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's WeeklyThis gentle, episodic chapter book focuses on the tender, true-to-life relationship between seven-and-a-half-year-old Jennifer and her younger sister, Molly. In the first vignette, set in the girls' grandparents' summer house, Jennifer tries to hide her jealousy at the beach when Molly's chubby-cheeked, blond good looks capture the attention of a stranger. It is Molly, too, whose gregarious personality gives Jennifer the courage to deliver cookies to an adult neighbor--who becomes a friend to them both. Although Van Leeuwen writes from Jennifer's point of view, she makes it clear that both sisters experience the more challenging aspects of sibling dynamics when their mother has another baby (``Something had changed. All of a sudden everybody was calling Jennifer and Molly big girls. . . . Jennifer didn't like it. She looked at Molly. Her face was screwed up in a frown, as if maybe she was thinking the same thing''). The themes of loyalty and resentment are carefully depicted and balanced; the chapters have the feel of a sketchbook as they scan the ups and downs of family life. The final scene of the two girls giggling at night ends the book on just the right note. Known for her popular Oliver and Amanda Pig stories, the author clearly understands something about sisters too. Illustrations not seen by PW. Ages 6-10. (May)
Children's Literature - Marilyn CourtotJennifer and her little sister Molly are believable in their relationship. Sometimes they are close and best friends, and at other times Jennifer is resentful of her sister's good looks and ability to talk to any adult. A warm and perceptive story that merits rereading.
School Library JournalGr 1-2-Seven-year-old Jennifer experiences conflicting feelings about Molly, her adorable, gregarious five-year-old sister. In the course of the book, her resentment and jealousy are balanced by love and a growing sense of protectiveness. In five short chapters, they join a gathering of their extended family; become friends with an elderly next-door neighbor; meet their new baby brother; share a hair-raising bike ride; and deal with a neighborhood bully. Throughout, their ``sister dresses'' (identical except for the color) serve as a symbol of their bond as well as of Jennifer's growth and desire to be treated as an individual. Using simple language rich in metaphor, the author provides a sensitive picture of the older girl's observations and shifting emotions in a format accessible to transitional readers. A good precursor Beverly Cleary's more humorous ``Ramona'' books (Morrow).-Maggie McEwen, Coffin Elementary School, Brunswick, ME
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