Mimmy & Sophie

Miriam Cohen, Author, Thomas F. Yezerski, Illustrator, Thomas F. Yezerski, Photographer
Miriam Cohen, Author, Thomas F. Yezerski, Illustrator, Thomas F. Yezerski, Photographer Farrar Straus Giroux $16 (40p) ISBN 978-0-374-34988-2
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Mimmy and Sophie, young sisters in Depression-era Brooklyn, are the subjects of four semi-autobiographical stories. Cohen (Will I Have a Friend?) injects a hearty dose of charm into the low-key, slice-of-life-style plot lines through her sympathetic and well-trained recall for children's voices and perceptions. The first story, for example, concerns itself simply with the purchase of two Popsicles from the street vendor, but manages to convey the depth of Mimmy and Sophie's feelings for each other as well as their distinct personalities. The other stories recount the girls' trip to their Russian immigrant grandparents (""Everybody loved Gramma's potatoes and meat and carrots in brown gravy. Mimmy and Sophie would rather have a baloney sandwich, but they would never say that""); a sibling squabble; and a family picnic on the Brooklyn Bridge. Young readers will appreciate the way the details in the different episodes intersect and layer one another; the whole is indeed greater than the sum of its parts. Yezerski (Together in Pinecone Patch) captures the period with panels of watercolors in a faded palette and liberal cross-hatching. He avoids nostalgia by stylizing the characters; unfortunately, their odd proportions can be jarring. The appealing design, however, compensates for the off-putting figures: with blocks of text set into the panel illustrations, the format is extremely well suited to those not quite ready to tackle chapter books. Ages 5-up. (Mar.)
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