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Children's Literacy and Reading News Roundup: March in Review

The Twins' Blanket: Hyewon Yum

Book: The Twins' Blanket
Author: Hyewon Yum
Pages: 40
Age Range: 4-8

51LiASjim8L._SL500_AA300_The Twins' Blanket, by Hyewon Yum, is about identical twins starting to have a tiny bit of separation from one another, but still remaining close. The five-year-old "look-alike twins" alternate the narration, explaining how they share everything, and have shared the same blanket since they were born. Now that they are getting too big to share the blanket, squabbles start to arise. Mommy says that they need separate twin beds now anyway, and proposes to make them each a blanket, from fabric that the girls select themselves. Both end up happy with their unique blankets, but not so sure about having to sleep in separate beds.

Yum captures the mix of closeness and bickering that one often sees in twins. The older sister (by three minutes) is a little bossy, both girls always want to go first, etc. Their different choices of fabric symbolize their individuality, even though they are also two parts of a whole.

The text is minimal, and reads like it's being narrated by a pair of five year olds. Like this:

"I am mad at my little sister!"

"Mad at me? I am mad, too. You're so greedy."

and this:

"Before she starts to sew, Mommy lets us wash the fabric in the backyard."

"The water tickles us. We laugh and laugh. It's so much fun!"

I think that there are pros and cons to using the girls as narrators. Young readers will be able to relate to the text, for sure. But this choice takes away the opportunity to include the richer vocabulary that one often finds in picture books. The Twins' Blanket would almost work as an early reader, as opposed to a picture book for read-aloud.

Although published by a US publisher (FSG), the author's South Korean background comes through in The Twins' Blanket, particularly in the illustrations. The twins, and their mother, look Korean. The silk-screened fabric that the twins choose for their and the watercolor endpapers both have an Asian feel. This gives the book a wonderful multi-cultural aspect, though without making it at all inaccessible to US-born readers.

The twins' original, striped blanket is bold and colorful, as are their rosy cheeks, in contrast to the extensive white background that Yum uses throughout the book. She also includes flashes of humor, like a pair of paintings of the girls, each scowling toward the edge of the picture frame (and hence the other twin), arms crossed in annoyance.

The Twins' Blanket is sure to resonate with young twins everywhere. Narrated as it is from a five-year-old perspective, it's probably more a fit for kids to read on their own than for read-aloud. The South Korean flavor to the book also makes it stand out a bit (and makes it a good choice for libraries, I would think). Recommended.

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux Books for Young Readers (@FSG_Books)
Publication Date: August 16, 2011
Source of Book: Library copy
Nominated for 2011 Cybils in Fiction Picture Books by: Anamaria Anderson

© 2011 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).