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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Dee Dee and Me, written and illustrated by Amy Schwartz. Holiday House, Thomas Allen & Son, 2013. $19.95 ages 4 and up

"When my best friend,
Patsy, came over,
Dee Dee said,
"We'll play jacks."

Dee Dee hogged the ball.
She won every game.

We had a tea party.
Dee Dee was the Duchess."

Amy Schwartz has always had my attention with her ability to write stories that capture the essence of the children she is portraying. How does she do that? Does it matter? I think what matters is that she does it, and brilliantly!

In her newest book about having an older sister who, to put it bluntly, is a royal pain in the neck at times, she creates a family tale that is sure to have her readers feeling exactly how Hannah feels about Dee Dee's antics. Our introduction to Dee Dee is pitch perfect:

"Dee Dee is my sister.
She is five and a half inches taller than me.
Dee Dee says those five and a half inches
are where a person's brains are."

Now, there's a sister to emulate and enjoy! She can be ever so irritating, and needs always to be the 'boss' of everything that is happening. She makes offers and then reneges on them. She professes to love Hannah's apron and before you know it, it's been turned into a purse. Is there an end to the havoc she can cause?

It seems that there is. It doesn't take too long for Hannah to take action:

The next time Patsy came over,
I told her I was too busy to
find Dee Dee.
When I got a new apron,
I told Dee Dee I was too busy
to show it to her.
On Saturday I told Dee Dee I was too busy
to have breakfast with her."

And then the audience finds out why. With the momentous decision that Hannah makes comes a fairly insurmountable road block. In the meantime, there is a great deal of time to enjoy solitary, imaginative play. When the reason for the delay is solved, we are left knowing that Hannah has no future worries. All is as it should be!

Funny, thoroughly entertaining and offering a different take on the way that sibling sisters settle their issues, this book is pure delight!

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