CM . . .
. Volume VIII Number 17 . . . . April 26, 2002
Isabel is fascinated with an old photo of her great grandmother, Bisa Bea. The more time she spends with the picture, the more it seems Bisa Bea is actually talking to her. Along with the stories of olden days comes advice on Isabel's behaviour, her clothes and friends. Some of the advice is unwelcome, especially when another voice - this one from Isabel's future - suggests she should make her own choices as she becomes her own person.
This character-driven story may appeal to girls who are only-children, like Isabel, with imaginary friends to substitute for siblings, or who might be curious to discover more about the way their grandparents lived. Isabel's relationship with the invisible Bisa Bea unfolds through sometimes plodding monologue and dialogue, written in a rather old-fashioned style. (The book is a translation from Brazilian Portugese.) Gradually Isabel comes to the realization that things and people change over time and that our past will impact on our future, "Looking back at the past and walking toward the future, I stumble every once in a while, as I invent new styles."
The pace is slow, suspense minimal, the conflict mainly internal. The momentum tends to bog down in tedious detail at times, eg. three pages of discussion about cloth handkerchiefs. It's a mildly pleasant story, but perhaps a bit slow for today's North American child.
Recommended with reservations.
in BC, Gillian Richardson is a former teacher-librarian and a published
writer of children's fiction and nonfiction.
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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.