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Gail Chislett
Illustrated by Helene Desputeaux
Willowdale (Ont.), Annick Press, 1991. 32pp, library binding ISBN 1-55037-196-7 (library binding) $14.95, ISBN 1-55037-198-3 (paper) $4.95.
Distributed by Firefly Books. CIP

Kindergarten to Grade 2/Ages 5 to 7

Reviewed by Linda Holeman

Volume 20 Number 2
1992 March

In this fantasy story, sisters Melinda and Cynthia are initially depicted as impossibly tidy and well-mannered children. But first Melinda, and then Cynthia, suffers from an attack of cold and flu, and they are reduced to real children who grumble and fuss. The story revolves rather unsatisfactorily around how they (and their mother) handle their minor illness and eventu­ally revert back to their ladylike, tea-drinking personae.

The attempted humour in the use of homonyms would be lost on many children, who have not yet developed a mature understanding of semantics. Examples include the "no's" cold, the "flew," and one sister telling the other that she's heard that if you yell, you get a little "horse." The other sister is anxious to try it, imagining a new pet.

There are other incidents involving subtle word plays - the doctor who visits the ailing Melinda displays a pill, announcing that "she'll feel better with this in her belly." He then proceeds to push it into her belly button. This may appeal to some children, but once again, only if they are sophisticated enough to understand the differences between the intended meaning and the written words.

The book itself is attractive; Desputeaux's illustrations of two little girls and their topsy-turvy world are charming and appealing.

Although I wanted to like the story and its characters, the slightly awkward sentences detracted from the plot, and I couldn't lose the feeling that nothing really happened to make us feel any empathy for Melinda or Cynthia.

Linda Holeman, Winnipeg, Man.
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