________________ CM . . . . Volume XXI Number 23 . . . . February 20, 2015


Loula and the Sister Recipe.

Anne Villeneuve.
Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 2014.
32 pp., hardcover & eBook, $18.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-77138-113-0.

Kindergarten-grade 2 / Ages 5-7.

Review by Jill Sexton.

**½ /4



"Gilbert! Can you help me? I'm going to make myself a sister!"

"Good heavens, Mademoiselle! What a strange idea. Why do you want to make a sister?"

"Because!" Loula replies. "I want a sister just like me. And making a sister is like making a cake - you need the right ingredients."

Loula has three annoying little brothers, and she's decided enough is enough: she needs a sister who is just like her. She presents her request to her parents, demanding her sister's immediate arrival. Her parents gently explain that her request will take time - and the right ingredients. Not to be swayed, Loula enlists her friend Gilbert, the family's chauffeur, to help her gather the items needed to build a sister.

internal art      Anne Villeneuve's second story about Loula, the first being Loula is Leaving for Africa, is whimsical and charming. Loula's interpretation of her parents' definition of the "ingredients" needed to make a sister - butterflies in the stomach, a full moon, and chocolate, to name a few - is comical in its delightful ignorance. The reader is able to overlook absurdities in the plot (a young child with access to her own personal chauffeur, who also has unlimited finances and time to catch butterflies in the middle of the city and to buy copious amount of expensive chocolate) because Loula's determination is contagious.

      There are some noticeable problems with the narrative, however. The story doesn't really have a solid beginning or end. Readers are first introduced to Loula's brothers' playtime, which has nothing to do with the rest of the story; the story concludes abruptly when Loula finds a "sister" - so abruptly, in fact, that I had to re-read the last few pages to find some coherence.

      Although Loula and the Sister Recipe has a rough start and a bumpy ending, its middle is enjoyable, in large part, thanks to its graphic illustrations. Villeneuve's watercolour images are truly lovely, composed of the perfect balance between realism and whimsy. Gilbert is elegantly rendered as a lanky, yet graceful, companion, and Loula, herself, has adorably wild pigtails and rogue socks that will not stay pulled up. The colours are bright, bold, and beautiful, and invite the reader to keep turning the pages.

      For both those who have already known and loved Loula and for new readers alike, Loula and the Sister Recipe will be a welcome addition to their library.


Jill Sexton has an MA in Communication from Carleton University and lives in Ottawa, ON. You can read more from her on her blog, The Book Bully.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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