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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Two and Only Kelly Twins, written by Johanna Hurwitz and illustrated by Tuesday Mourning. Candlewick Press, Random House. 2013. $17.00 ages 6 and up

"Ever since they had started school, Ilene and Arlene had been singled out as special because they were twins. Now here was this Roberta, who had not only an identical sister but a brother, too. Ilene felt very annoyed. How could she and Arlene be considered special if there were triplets in their school? Being a twin would no longer seem like a big deal. "I'm a triplet, too..."

In the debut edition of her new series about Arlene and Ilene Kelly, identical twins, Johanna Hurwitz gets to the heart of the matter when talking about siblings. They have arguments about many things, not the least of which is what kind of pet to have. Dad solves the problem when he brings home a  most unexpected pair of ferrets, who also look exactly alike.

The dialogue is spot on, the tiffs are typical, and both feel that the arrival of triplets in the second grade might threaten what has always made them unique. When Ilene lies and tells Roberta that they are also triplets, the twins have difficulty keeping up the pretense. Second graders will understand the repercussions of lies told, and also the need to save face after proudly proclaiming something that is decidedly untrue.

Their adventures are not unusual for girls of their age, and twins to boot. They must deal with the consequences of their actions, and doing it together sure beats doing it alone. When Arlene goes to hospital with an appendicitis attack, Ilene has difficulty with the separation. She has rarely done anything without her sister close by:

"The next morning Ilene walked to school without having her sister by her side. She had never walked to school alone, or in fact done much of anything alone, in her entire seven years."

Tuesday Mourning uses watercolor illustrations to bring the girls, their friends and their matching ferrets to glorious life for young readers. The red specs, the matching outfits and cozy setting add appeal to a series that is sure to be a hit with those readers looking for first chapter books. The six chapters are episodic and read like short stories. This book would make a great readaloud in an early years classroom. There is humor, a gentle tone, and a real feeling for the special kind of friendship that often only exists between twins.

I am certain that we will meet up with Arlene and Ilene in the future to learn more about their daily lives and continuing adventures!

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