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Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Maple and Willow Apart, written and illustrated by Lori Nichols. Penguin. 2015. $18.99 ages 3 and up

"Later, Willow heard all
about kindergarten, again.

"We had story time in a
circle and then went
around the circle and
everyone shared something
special and I shared my
heart rock since I had one
in my coat pocket, and
tomorrow we start ... "

A new school year can be such an exciting time for young children! Maple is thrilled to be climbing on board a school bus for the first time, and on her way to kindergarten. Willow? After a summer filled with being together, Willow must face the prospect of long and lonely days without her beloved companion.

Having met Maple first in 2014, I was happy to be introduced to her new sister Willow later that same year. Although they have their differences and occasional tiffs, they are an inseparable pair who love and share many happy moments doing what they both love to do. Knowing that school is inevitable and just around the corner (tomorrow), they spend their last day of summer playing together 'extra hard'.

Willow is growing up, but she isn't old enough yet to be joining her sister in a school classroom. Her first day on her own is lonely and without anchor. Maple arrives home with endless stories to tell. Willow wants to share her news, too. She tells Maple about her new friend:

"Pip is my new friend," said Willow.
"He has a bumpy head and he is afraid of squirrels."

Listeners who have been watching the charming pencil and digitally colored illustrations will want to share that Willow is talking about an acorn. On the second day, Willow entertains herself with exploration and new delights. At the end of their days, they share news of school and daytime adventure. As the week goes by, Willow becomes concerned with all that Willow is learning while she is gone. Willow has the perfect solution for her big sister.

It's lovely to see Maple and Willow again. I highly anticipate their upcoming Christmas tale.


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