cover image Pirates & Princesses

Pirates & Princesses

Jill Kargman and Sadie Kargman, illus. by Christine Davenier. Dutton, $16.99 (32

Best friends since their "diaper days," Ivy and Fletch get a rude awakening when they hit kindergarten and encounter voluntary gender segregation: "[W]hile Ivy and Fletch played on the swings together, all of the other girls were with the girls and the boys were with the boys." Will the allure of same-sex-only fun%E2%80%94the princess club for Ivy, pirates for Fletch%E2%80%94prove stronger than a lifelong friendship (all five years of it)? The Kargmans, a mother and daughter team (Sadie is eight), make their debut with a premise that's wryly attuned to budding boy-girl dynamics. But their literal, windy, and patronizingly cute prose ("And then came kindergarten, where the big kids go.... And nap time? That was gone, baby, gone") makes it all the more fortunate that Davenier (Miss Lina's Ballerinas) is on board. As always, her stylish watercolors delight, conveying empathy and humor in balletic, gossamer brush strokes, making the pages fly by and even the most heavy-handed messaging ("After all, there's a little pirate and princess in all of us") feel light on its feet. Ages 3%E2%80%935. (Sept.)