________________ CM . . . . Volume XV Number 3. . . .September 26, 2008


Sister Spirit. (Go Girl!).

Thalia Kalkipsakis. Illustrated by Ash Oswald.
Toronto, ON: Scholastic, 2008.
87 pp., pbk., $5.99.
ISBN 978-0-545-99913-7.

Subject Headings:
Practical jokes-Juvenile fiction.
Sisters-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 3-6 / Ages 8-11.

Review by Lisa Hanson O'Hara.

**** /4


Lunchtime Rules. (Go Girl!).

Vicki Steggall.. Illustrated by Ash Oswald.
Toronto, ON: Scholastic, 2008.
81 pp., pbk., $5.99.
ISBN 978-0-545-99912-0.

Subject Headings:
Problem-solving-Juvenile fiction.
Self-acceptance-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 3-6 / Ages 8-11.

Review by Lisa Hanson O'Hara.

**** /4



The latest two books in the "Go Girl!" series are just as good as the previous ones. Once again, the sparkly, pastel covers belie the storylines within which are very thoughtful and as equally interesting to boys as to girls. However, because they are aimed at girls in the "tween" age group, they are especially appealing. The heroines sort out problems for themselves and, as a result, become stronger people, better able to accept themselves and deal with their own realities.

     In Sister Spirit, Cassie's big sister Hannah talks her into cutting her hair. She tells her that she'll look more like a nine-year-old and not like a little kid with shorter hair. However, Hannah cuts off a ponytail, leaving some very short hairs. The girls' mother is upset and takes Cassie to the hairdresser, but Cassie is even more upset, bursting into tears and accusing Hannah of cutting her hair because she is jealous and doesn't want her looking cute. Cassie is convinced that Hannah hates her. However, Hannah reacts to the drama by getting quieter and ignoring Cassie in the coming days, and Cassie finds that she really does like her funky new haircut. She doesn't feel as much like a little kid and is beginning to make some decisions on her own.

      Cassie also discovers that she can squeeze into a gap between her closet wall and Hannah's closet wall. She finds a book about ghosts that Hannah is reading and decides that she will see if Hannah really believes in ghosts. Cassie begins to scratch the wall; then the next time thumps it; then upsets a CD tower, and finally throws something out of the closet. Hannah is terrified and begins to lose sleep. As Cassie realizes what she's done, she begins to feel bad. She tries to help Hannah, and the girls finally talk.

"I'm sorry I cut your hair," Hannah said in the dark. Her voice sounded clear and calm.

"That's OK," I said quietly. But I still didn't understand. "Why did you do it, Hannah?"

"I didn't mean to," Hannah said. "It was an accident. I didn't think about what would happen when I cut off your pigtail."

I was stunned. "You mean it really was an accident?" I said.

"Yeah. Sorry."

My mind raced. Hannah has always been bigger than me, better than me, smarter than me. I never even imagined that she made mistakes.

"You mean you didn't plan to cut it like that?" I said.

"Nope." Hannah sounded like she was smiling. "But it looks OK, don't you think?"

"But why did you stop talking to me?" I said. "If it was a mistake, why did you blame me?"

"Blame you? You blamed me!" Hannah said. "Did you know what would happen if I cut off a pigtail?"

I didn't say anything. I had no idea.

"You didn't know either, did you?" Hannah said. "We didn't realize how short some pieces would be."

     Although Cassie never confesses that she was the ghost, she and Hannah become closer and Cassie grows into her hair cut.

     In Lunchtime Rules, Ant (short for Samantha) is no longer welcome to play sports at lunch with her friends because she is too small. This situation makes her miserable because she has always played sports with them. They are her best friends, and she doesn't know what to do. She tries hiding out in the library at lunch, and the substitute librarian tells her about Rod Laver, the Australian tennis star and how he overcame a problem to become a two-time Grand Slam champion. When Ant talks the problem over with her mom, her mom recognizes that the problem isn't that Ant is too small - it's that she can't run fast enough. So, her mom sets out to train her as a runner.

"No. I said I would coach you. I happen to know quite a bit about running."


"Yes, me. I know I might look like an overweight, cake-baking mom, and I know I get the sports stars mixed up when I see them on TV, but years ago, I happened to be one of the fastest runners at my school. Of course, I was thinner in those days."

My mom - a running star?

This can't be true.

     Of course it is true, and her mom proves to be a tough coach. Ant and her friend Elie come up with a rule: If Ant can run fast enough in the 400-meter on Field Day, she can play at lunch again. She ends up coming in second, close behind the fastest runner in the school. And, the boys agree to let her play again. However, Lauren has been playing in Ant's place, and Ant realizes that it isn't fair to leave her out. So, they make a new rule that they can play with five so that everyone who wants to play can play. Ant has overcome her problem and learned something about the people around her on the way.

      Both these books are fun to read and have great stories which will also help empower girls. The illustrations by Ash Oswald are terrific, a cross between a cartoon and anime, sure to please this age group.

Highly Recommended.

Lisa Hanson O'Hara is a mother of three and librarian in Winnipeg, MB.

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

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ISSN 1201-9364
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