CM . . .
. Volume XIX Number 41. . . .June 21, 2013
Annie, Simon, and the lovable Hazel return in the second installment of Catharine O'Neill's easy reader series. The adventures are all new, but fans of the first book, Annie and Simon (Vol. XIX, No. 33, April 26, 2013) will find that the strengths of the first book are all accounted for in this one: the humorous dialogue, the new insights into the world, and "Hazel, Hazel, Hazel the Dog."
The stories in this sequel run the gamut. In "Living Things", the titular siblings enjoy a nice trip to Pickerel Lake. Simon stays on the lookout for the bugs and animals native to the area while Annie tries her hand at drawing them. In the title story, "The Sneeze", Annie jumps at the chance to take care of Simon, but she ends up calling on him for help throughout the process. "Hazel, Hazel, Hazel"delves into the positive and negative differences between cats and dogs as Annie admires a neighbouring cat but inevitably comes back to appreciate Hazel, the dog, for being herself. Finally, with "Horse Chestnuts", Annie and Simon solve a mystery while learning a lesson about sharing.
The bright and unique watercolours are just as pleasing to the eye the second time around. O'Neill has captured the spirit and movement of the stories in the illustrations. The prose and art work together in complete harmony. It is easy to get lost in the subtler details of the images before moving forward to the next story. As with the last book, the episodic nature is appreciated as each story stands alone while simultaneously building on the larger themes of sibling friendship and adventure. The characters are strong and well-developed, and the stories are realistic with a hint of whimsy.
I would recommend Annie and Simon: The Sneeze and Other Stories to all fans of the first volume, but also to those not already acquainted with the characters. Readers can pick this one up without any previous knowledge and immediately become endeared to this adventurous trio.
Amber Allen is a librarian in Toronto, ON, with a passion for children's literature.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.