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Reviewed by:
  • Dee Dee and Me by Amy Schwartz
  • Jeannette Hulick
Schwartz, Amy. Dee Dee and Me; written and illus. by Amy Schwartz. Holiday House, 2013. 32p ISBN 978-0-8234-2524-2 $16.95 R 5-7 yrs

Young Hannah knows exactly how despotic older sisters can be. Her big sister, Dee Dee, insults her, grabs the extra muffin at snack times, makes Hannah’s favorite apron into a purse, butts her way into Hannah’s playdates, relegates Hannah to the less desirable roles during imaginative play, and takes her beloved Brown Bear. Hannah finally decides to run away, pausing for a snack (“I unlocked my suitcase and ate my birthday chocolate bar. I didn’t have to share it with Dee Dee. I licked my fingers”) and a little solo playtime until Dee Dee shows up at her bedroom door. Sisterly rapprochement occurs as it turns out that Dee Dee took Brown Bear not to be mean but to replace his missing button eye for Hannah; now, when Dee Dee initiates a dress-up session, Hannah firmly negotiates a promotion to the coveted roles of Duchess and Evil Queen, and the two sisters go off happily to play together. Schwartz hits all the right notes in this tale of sibling dynamics, with precise, realistic examples of the ways in which bigger kids try to diminish their younger sibs: “Dee Dee is my sister. She is five and a half inches taller than me. Dee Dee says those five and a half inches are where a person’s brains are.” Lively patterns and decorative details (such as Hannah’s penguin-studded jumper) and clear, soft colors (with brighter accent tones) give Schwartz’s gouache and pen and ink illustrations a cozy, homey feel, while the dot-eyed, childlike figures match Hannah’s youthful narrative voice. Younger siblings will easily sympathize with Hannah while older ones may see themselves in a new light after hearing Hannah’s perspective; this might be particularly successful when read aloud by an older sibling to a younger one. [End Page 238]



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