Sunday 15 September 2013


Sisters by Amy Laizans,  illustrated by Sophie Scahill (Little Steps Publishing)
PB RRP $16.95
ISBN – 9781921928895
Reviewed by Emma Cameron

The simple message brought to young readers in this book is that, although they have some differences, people are very much the same at the core. The first half of the story, told in first person, introduces readers to the narrator’s best friend Jane and shows their friendship and shared love of playing chasings outside, blowing and popping bubbles, reading, baking and doing craft.

Once the relationship has been established for readers we see the happiness disturbed, when … ”a schoolmate asked Jane if she speaks English”. Jane’s response, ”Of course I do! I was born here like you.” The issue then becomes greater as Jane then introduces the schoolmate to the narrator saying, “This is my best mate and my sister.’” Sadly Jane’s words see the schoolmate tell her this is not possible, because they have different skin colour.

Fortunately the narrator comforts Jane, telling her they are sisters at heart. As readers ponder this, the story winds up to reveal something previously unknown; that it is, in fact, Jane who was born in this country and speaks only English but the narrator speaks two languages and moved here from overseas. To round things off, the final line reinforces the story’s sentiment by repeating the refrain, “We will always be sisters in our hearts.”

Scahill’s hand-drawn digital compositions lend a sense of simplicity that matches the text while bringing emotion to the reader as they see the two friends sharing a beautiful bond, becoming unsettled by the inconsiderate intrusion of another, and then reaffirming their closeness as they turn their back on such a misguided view. The work will certainly suit its target audience of 5-8 year olds.

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