Childhood is filled with rapid and strange changes. You’re growing, learning, and competing from the moment you arrive. You form a bond with a sibling, and then that sibling grows and changes. It seems you’ll never get a handle on it all.
The slippery nature of sibling relationships is explored in a charming and insightful picture book Whatever Happened to my Sister? by Simona Ciraolo, published by Flying Eye Books.
It opens with a little girl puzzling over an album of family pictures showing an older and younger sister playing together.
“I’d had my suspicions for a while that someone had replaced my sister with a girl who looked a lot like her.”
Now she’s stuck with a tall rude sister who never wants to play,
isn’t interested in cute things,
and is hanging out with boys.
This is Ciraolo’s second book. Her first, Hug Me, showed enormous but subtle sensitivity to the plight of a prickly character. In this new book, she uses a minimalist narrative to tenderly explore a difficult passage in childhood.
My 7 year old friend Karishma was particularly interested in this book because Hug Me is one of her favorites, and because her sister just turned 13. Karishma has two older sisters and a younger one, so the dynamics between sisters are very much a part of her life.
The hardest part is that her older sister is no longer predictable. And things aren’t going to return to the way they were.
Whatever Happened to my Sister? doesn’t sugar coat the reality of change, but it celebrates the new ways that bonds between sisters can be formed.
After reading the book, Karishma and I had a great discussion about how much she’s grown in the last year. This year, she’s reading books to me and understanding more words and concepts.
She’s taller. Her relationship with her two year old sister has changed. Change is inevitable, but it doesn’t have to be scary. Especially when you’ve got good stories to help you out along the way.
Whatever happened to my Sister? is drawn with warmth and charm. Ciraolo uses a muted palette and expressive crayon lines. As the story closes, everything brightens and you can almost hear the giggling between sisters.
You can find out more about author/illustrator Ciraolo here.
And you can see more wonderful books published by Flying Eye here.
You can read Karishma’s and my review of Hug Me here.
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