Friday, May 25, 2012

Emma Dilemma

Title: Emma Dilemma: Big Sister Poems
Author: Kristine O'Connell George 
Illustrator: Nancy Carpenter 
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 
Publication Date:  February 2011
Genre/Format: Realistic Fiction/Poetry
GoodReads Summary: Emma is Jess's little sister...and her dilemma. How can one small girl be sweet, funny, imaginative, playful, and affectionate as well as a clinging vine, brat, tattletale, and nuisance all at the same time? Why is Jess supposed to be a good big sister while Emma doesn't have to be a good little sister? The highlights and low points of this sibling relationship are insightfully evoked in short and simple poems, some funny, some touching, and all resonant with emotional truth. Every child with a younger sibling will recognize Jess's dilemma and the combination of ambivalence and deep loyalty that is built into the sibling relationship. Nancy Carpenter's graceful illustrations perceptively complement Kristine O'Connell George's agile poems.
What I Think: I have been reading and discussing See You At Harry's by Jo Knowles this month and then I read this collection of poems that tell a story about two sisters and I fell in love. Emma Dilemma is full of sisterly poems. I have a younger sister who reminds me of Emma in a way. We definitely acted like sisters growing up - the kind of sisters who just struggle to get along. Kristine O'Connell George truly gets sibling relationships right in these story. As much as Jessica (the bigger sister) is annoyed by her little sister (Emma), she really loves her and they will always be sisters.

Any child who has a sibling can relate to at least one of the poems in this book, I'm sure. And for anyone who doesn't have a sibling, I think this gives some great insight into what it's like to have a little sibling. 
Nancy Carpenter's illustrations fascinate me. I love them. Every time I see one of her books, I snatch it up. I could tell this was her work right away even though this book doesn't include any of the collage-style artwork that I have seen in M Is For Mischief or 11 Experiments That Failed (which are both fun in their own way - they actually could be books about Emma!)

This book is wonderful for talking about siblings and sibling relationships - or even relationships in general, how there are some people who can really get on our nerves but we also love those people sometimes. I love the idea of exploring personal narratives through poetry. Writing about your life and what you know is the important, and it would be a good topic to use when working on poetry. I also love how this book could get kids into the mode of thinking about families and family relationships before reading See You At Harry's or Fig Pudding as a read aloud. 
Read Together: Grades 1 - 5 
Read Alone: Grades 1 - 5  
Read With: Velma Gratch and the Way Cool Butterfly by Alan Madison, Dogku by Andrew Clements, Oh, Theodore! by Susan Katz, Take Two! by Fig Pudding by Ralph Fletcher, See You At Harry's by Jo Knowles, Cheaper By The Dozen by Frank Gilbreth, The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson, Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine 
Snatch of Text:  
Emma's Hand

Emma's hand is
                   just the right size
to fit
           inside mine.

Emma's hand is 


Picture Books

             When I read
                    my picture books
          to Emma,
   I feel
 as if
           I'm visiting 
           old friends.

Reading Strategies to Practice: Activating Background Knowledge, Making Connections, Making Predictions, Making Inferences 
Writing Strategies to Practice: Personal Narrative, Poetry, Anaphora (Trespass, p. 31)  
Writing Prompts: Write about your relationship with a sibling or if you are an only child, write about your relationship with your parents or another family member who is close to you.  
Topics Covered: Love, Family, Sisters, Parents, Role Model, Maturity, Growing Up, Jealousy, Annoyance, Anger, Guilt

Jen *hearts* It:

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