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Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Whatever happened to my sister? Written and illustrated by Simona Ciraolo. Flying Eye Books, 2015. $24.95 ages 5 and up

"Did it happen overnight?
I am rather observant, yet
the moment of the switch
must have passed me by.
I suppose there were the

She'd been incredibly
boring on several occasions
but I guess I didn't give it
much thought ... "

There was a time when they did everything together. The younger sister, who is our narrator, has just started noticing big changes in her older sister. She sees that though she looks the same there are many other changes. She is taller and can reach higher than she ever did. She closes her bedroom door when she doesn't want visitors. She is no longer interested in 'pretty things'.

As the little one looks at photo albums and contemplates the many changes, she wants to question others. Asking her sister's friends (mainly boys) for advice is implausible. They look similar and can't hear anything because each one is listening to music on headsets. (Even her sister is sharing ear buds with her crush - you can tell because they both have reddened cheeks). Mom and Dad have no answers either. The longer it takes to consider the changes, the more upsetting it is. She misses her big sister!

Just as tears begin to drip from her eyes as she hides herself behind the sofa, her sister appears with an invitation to a former happy time and a discovery of her own:

"It was after a while that she
stopped to look at me and asked,
'When did YOU become so tall?'"

The illustrations, done with soft crayon touches and watercolors, are wonderful. They add context in the many details that fill the spreads. The color palette changes to reflect mood, and the gamut of emotions felt as one considers the observations being made.The family photos that she is perusing are filled with happy times, and lovely memories.  It is a warm and humorous tale told from a different perspective to what is usual fare for stories about siblings. This time the little one is beleaguered by the changes in the older one - sure to spark discussion when considering the adolescent in a household, or a whole classroom full of them. Tender and sensitive to those wishing that things didn't have to change quite so much with growing up.

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