by Alison McGhee ill Joe Bluhm
There is a unique quality to sibling dynamics. In the first place, there isn’t much mystery. You know all the secret little things that only two who share the same living space can appreciate. You have the same backstory. This can work for and against your relationship.
Alison McGhee explores this complex bond in Dear Sister, an epistolary collection of messages from a brother to his eight-years-younger sibling, beginning with his sister’s birth and concluding when he leaves home for college.
Required by his parents whom he often refers to as the wardens, he frequently composes cards and notes for his sister. Some celebrate important events such as birthdays. There are "report cards" grading her on characteristics ranging from crying to avoiding lima beans. There is more than one apology. Many are accompanied by his drawings. Readers follow the lives of both as they grow up and experience life’s challenges.
The evolution of their relationship is brilliantly chronicled. A running thread is the young girl's insistence on multiple readings of her favorite book, Never Too Clever. Her delight in hearing the story read aloud does not diminish with time.
Readers with memories of family relationships will be drawn to this heartwarming story. Give a copy to the siblings in your life. Young and old, they will relate.
Meeting the Creators
I have been a fan of Alison McGhee’s work for some time. What I Leave Behind, Maybe a Fox, Birdie and Pablo are three recently published titles that I completely and totally fell in love with. Not only is Alison a gifted author, she is also a very talented narrator.
I had the good fortune to meet up with Alison and her sister Holly, literary agent and kidlit author. Wonder if these sisters ever had sibling issues?
At a picture book presentation I sat next to an unfamiliar face. I was fairly certain that he was not a librarian, nor part of a publishing team. Who was this guy? He introduced himself: Joe Bluhm, illustrator for a soon-to-be-released book.
At the conclusion of the event, Joe produced a galley of a book based on an intriguing concept and filled with the most engaging illustrations. He shared a bit about the book and his illustration process. Thanks Joe for a copy of Dear Sister.
He signed the ARC.