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SISTERS FIRST by Jenna Bush Hager


by Jenna Bush Hager & Barbara Pierce Bush ; illustrated by Ramona Kaulitzki

Pub Date: Nov. 12th, 2019
ISBN: 978-0-316-53478-9
Publisher: Little, Brown

A paean to sisterhood by the former first daughters.

Although the co-authors are twins, their rhyming, first-person text is in the voice of a girl praying for a baby sister: “Please make her kind, with an enormous heart, / clever too, and very smart.” Her wishes are prompted by her observations of other sisters, whom the accompanying cartoon art depicts as diverse pairs of girls, including two brown-skinned children with wavy brown hair and a white-appearing girl holding the hand of a small child who appears black, with dark skin and afro-puffs. The narrator is blonde with light skin, and her sister is born with a similar complexion but reddish-brown hair. The big sister is chagrined to realize that having a baby sister isn’t all she’d expected, but frustration abates when she reflects on her earlier prayer and thinks, “If kindness was what I was asking of you, / I needed to be kind and patient, too.” As the baby grows, the sisters achieve the loving, close bond the narrator prayed for. While the core sentiment might well move readers, the bland art stops short of expanding or enriching the text, and the writing both falters in cadence and descends into cliché, as in lines reading “And with time…we found a rhythm, your hand locked in mine. / We sang duets and danced in rain and sunshine.”

Not a first pick.

(Picture book. 3-6)