Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Sister Act: Maple and Willow Together by Lori Nichols


Maple and Willow, preschool siblings in a seemingly arboreal-obsessed family, spend so much time together than they have their own language, a special dialect of pig Latin. They like the same things--drawing, coloring, cooking, catching grasshoppers and building fairy houses out of sticks and leaves found under their twin signature trees. Almost every night, little Willow migrates shyly to Maple's bed, where the two sleep together through the night.

But Maple's maple tree is taller than Willow's willow, as befits the elder sister, and Maple mostly rules the roost. Willow, as befits her name, is very flexible and compliant--most of the time.

Until one day, when the sisters find that they have a surfeit of dandelions all over their lawn. Maple wants them to collect all the blooming ones and make a big bouquet. But this time Willow wants to do it her way. HER WAY is to snatch one up and send the seeds sailing over the grass. Maple decides it's time to pull rank, and makes a grab for the stalk. Willow fires back by blowing the seeds right in Maple's face. Maple yells at Willow, who turns and stomps on Maple's favorite toy.

That's it for Maple! Push has come to shove, and that's what she does. She shoves Willow right down on the ground!


Willow wails and Maple is hopping Admay!!

Mom steps in and sends the two to their separate rooms, where they mutter to themselves and sulk for all of twenty minutes before they realize that they are now more bored than mad and set out to find a way to make amends. Lori Nichols introduced Maple and her name tree in her popular first book, Maple, which closes with planting a seedling willow and greeting Maple''s promised little sister. (See review here).

In Lori Nichols' second book, Maple and Willow Together (Nancy Paulsen/Penguin Group, 2014), Willow has grown just past toddlerhood and is beginning to have a mind of her own, as little siblings do, setting up several possible sequels as pushy big sister and pesty little sister work out their own version of sisterhood. Nichols' illustrations in her sequel are just as deciduously dainty and delightful as her first book, with the tree sisters done up in pastel drawings, easily showing off their evocative body language which hints at their subtle differences in personality. As Kirkus Reviews puts it, "Nichols makes clever use of the book's gutter, subtly and simply representing the invisible bridge that both connects the girls so seamlessly (and here quite beautifully) and also distinguishes them from each other."  There's nothing like love, and sister love, between squabbles can be the est-bay!

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