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Amber Was Brave, Essie Was Smart

by Vera B. Williams

Published by Greenwillow Books/HarperCollins, 2001
72 pages
ISBN: 0-06-029460-4

Ages 7 - 11

Amber and her older sister, Essie, must rely on each other most days. Their mother is at work, there's little to eat, and not much beyond Wilson the Bear to play with. There's Amber's question, "Tell me just one more time, Essie . . . Where is Daddy?" The sisters try to wrap their minds around the fact that forging a check is the same as stealing, because that's why there's such a big family secret. An exceptionally gifted painter, Williams used rainbow colors here to explore the feelings of a loving, beleaguered little family. An unusually skilled writer, she tenderly characterized two children who know and also don't realize how fragile their family's well-being now is. Williams has created a narrative embedded in 28 brief unrhymed poems and accompanied by an "album" of paintings and drawings. Here she's created a new form, checked sentimentality at the door, and provided an example of how love and the human spirit are the emotional furniture on which children can rest. CCBC Categories: Fiction for Children; Picture Books for Older Children; Poetry; Understanding Oneself and Others. (GMK; Oct 8) 2001 Cooperative Children's Book Center

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