My Sister Gracie Paperback – 23 Aug 2005
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"The rhyming tale is enhanced by whimsical watercolor cartoons...The pictures are humorous, but understated and appealing. An endearing addition to stories about family relationships and sibling rivalry."
-School Library Journal
"Johnson's illustrations render the emotion so humorously and expressively that it feels like two new characters might have walked onto the stage of children's books...all the subtlety and complexity of the emotional dynamics are there in the pictures...Visually this is a delight."
-The Toronto Star "Johnson's rhymes are silly and smart, and her illustrations will delight budding young readers or those who love a laptop reading session."
-Hamilton Spectator "Johnson's rhyming story moves well as the lyrical narrative bounces gleefully along. No 'he saids' or 'she saids' clutter the way. Ink-drawn details on muted watercolor follow suit-simple and exceptionally well crafted...the language makes for both a romping bedtime story and manageable goal for new readers."
-Today's Library "My Sister Gracie is a sweet story about accepting a new sibling even if they are not quite what one expects...The rhyming text makes it a great bedtime story for a youngster about to have a new brother or sister. The rhyming text makes it a fun read aloud."
-Top of Texas Review From the Hardcover edition.
From the Inside Flap
Fabio is an only dog. He longs for a brother to play with him, to share his toys, and to show off to his friends. His owners agree that Fabio should have companionship. The time has come to get another dog.
Much to Fabio's horror, the dog they bring home is not the frisky brother he envisioned. It is fat old Gracie, fresh from the pound. She's tired, she's shy, and worst of all, she's a girl. Fabio does everything he can to get rid of the interloper. But while it's all right for him to complain about Gracie, just watch the fur fly when the other dogs make fun of her. Fabio realizes that families, and love, come in all shapes and sizes.
This story will be familiar to any child who has wanted a brother or sister and is surprised to find that what arrives is not the full-fledged playmate he or she expected.
"From the Hardcover edition.See all Product description
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The story starts with Fabio. Fabio has a pretty good life for a dog. Loving family, friends, and lots of toys. But Fabio wants more. To be precise, he wants a brother to play with and share his fun with. As Fabio languishes in the house, his family agrees that Fabio needs a companion. But things don't go quite as planned.
Instead of the mini-Fabio he was hoping for, Fabio's family brings home Gracie--Fabio's new sister! Gracie came from the pound. She's old, tired, shy (and a little weird looking). Nothing like the sprightly companion Fabio had in mind. Certainly not an appropriate addition to his family. Too bad Fabio is the only one who thinks so.
Things only get worse when Fabio and Gracie travel the neighborhood and meet some of Fabio's friends. At least until Fabio realizes that not being able to pick your family doesn't make them any less important.
More perceptive readers than me may have already picked up on the fact that this book would be good for young children expecting a new sibling in the near future. (I only realized that after reading the blurb.) Johnson uses Gracie's arrival to show that new pets (and babies) aren't very exciting playmates and that they need a lot of tender loving care. The book also shows that adopting dogs from a pound or shelter is a commitment. I haven't fully worked out how yet, but I think this book could also work for children who want to get a new pet--but that might be for slightly older children since it's a pretty abstract concept in relation to the crux of the book.
I love the illustrations for this book. I cannot, unfortunately, say what medium Johnson works in as I cannot find that information anywhere online but they look like pencil and ink to me. These drawings are cartoons in the best sense of the word. Fabio is a miniature poodle with what can only be described as a mohawk. And Gracie, well, Gracie is awesome (as is immediately apparent from the picture of her on the cover). Johnson's illustrations, while simple, are rich with motion. You can almost see Gracie waddling along down the street beside Fabio's staccato steps.
As if all of that isn't cool enough, this book is also written in verse--rhyming verse. I've heard lots of different opinions on rhyming in poetry and picture books. Personally, I say if it works, it works. The rhyming works in "My Sister Gracie" adding a lot of rhythm and snap to this cute picture book.
Amazon.com recommends this book for children ages three to five. I think the age might even extend slightly higher if a grown up wanted to talk about the "sibling angle" or the rhyme scheme found in the writing.