Book Review: Emma Dilemma by Kristine O’Connell George

emma dilemma

Emma Dilemma: Big Sister Poems by Kristine O’Connell George, illustrated by Nancy Carpenter

Told from the point of view of the older sister, these poems show the intricacies of relationships between sisters.  Emma can be a very embarrassing little sister, especially at ball games where she is the one dressed in a feather boa and cheering loudly using Jessica’s name.  Emma copies everything Jessica does, but her hand also fits perfectly in Jessica’s when they hold hands.  Jessica is often the only one who understands what Emma is saying.  Emma can be naughty, stealing shoes, scaring people, filling Jessica’s room with loops of yarn.  But there are also the moments when the sisters connect over pet rocks, picture books, and jokes.  The climax of the story comes when Emma tries to reach Jessica and one of her friends when they are in a treehouse.  Emma falls and breaks her arm, and there is no doubt these sisters adore one another.

George captures the ins and outs of siblings with a skilled eye.  The book shows the complexity of the relationship, both the good and the bad, often right alongside each other.  Neither sister is the good or bad one, they are simply themselves.  The book’s tone is just right as well, never too dramatic or over the top.  Instead these are moments from what feel like real days, captured in poetry.  The touches of humor add to the appeal of the book as well.

Carpenter’s illustrations exude a warmth that works so well here.  Done in pen and ink and digital media, they retain their hand-drawn style with the bright washes of digital ink.  Each illustration is a picture of the lives of the characters, they reveal the emotions going on in that moment with a great clarity.

Highly recommended, this is a book of poems that any child with siblings will see themselves in and enjoy.  Appropriate for ages 6-8.

Reviewed from library copy.

Also reviewed by Young Readers.