Rating: 5 stars
Readers were first introduced to Maple in the book simply titled “Maple.” In “Maple and Willow Together,” author Lori Nichols gives Maple a younger sister who displaces Maple’s beloved tree. While “Maple” was a paean to nature and trees, this new story is an ode to sisterhood and the importance of staying close.
Maple and her sister, Willow, are best friends, and they do everything together. They play in the leaves together in the fall. In winter, they make snow angels together. And in the spring, they explore nature together looking for rocks and catching grasshoppers (which I’m sure they always let go). And while there might be a few things they do differently, it works out. If Maple is in charge of holding the umbrella on a rainy day, Willow is in charge of splashing through puddles.
But just as into every life some rain must fall, in the lives of Maple and Willow, there is sure to be some strife. When they disagree about how to treat dandelion blooms, both girls have temper tantrums. And for a few minutes, “…Neither sister wanted to be together ever again.”
But just as summer rains pass by, so do temporary temper tantrums. Soon Maple and Willow find that life alone is just not as much fun as life with a best friend — a sister. So they make up and return to enjoying all life has to offer as sisters and best friends.
The maple tree and the willow tree from the first “Maple” book feature prominently in this book. Clever children might point out the similarity in the two books in terms of the passing of seasons and the growth of the characters. A great discussion would be to talk to kids about whether they think that the two sisters change as a result of their experience.
As in “Maple,” the illustrations are simple yet lovely. Nichols make great use of white space for many pages, and that serves to make the full-color pages even more special. Her “trademark” maple leaf is featured in many of the illustrations.
Please note: This review is based on the final hardcover book provided by the publisher, Nancy Paulsen Books, for review purposes.