cover image Two Girls in Sister Dresses

Two Girls in Sister Dresses

Jean Van Leeuwen. Dial Books, $12.99 (56pp) ISBN 978-0-8037-1230-0

This 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)