Maple and Willow Together

Book review by
Patricia Tauzer, Common Sense Media
Maple and Willow Together Book Poster Image
Sweet sister tale about sibling ups and downs.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Maple and Willow are the names of trees, and dandelions play a role in the plot -- could be a good starting point for talking about and exploring nature. The story shows problem solving, conflict resolution, cooperation, compromise.

Positive Messages

Exploring nature, reading, playing imaginary games is fun; doing everything with a close friend or sibling makes it all even more fun; trading off, sharing, and compromising make close relationships work better;

Positive Role Models & Representations

Maple and Willow are imaginative, playful, kind, independent, and kind to each other. They do fight at one point, which seems typical of real sisters, but it doesn't take long for them to realize how much they care for and miss one another when they're separated. They resolve their issues on their own and become even closer.

Violence & Scariness
Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Maple and Willow Together is the second in Lori Nichols' developing series (Maple; Maple and Willow Apart) about the world of sisters growing up together. Each is a sweet story about a particular stage in their sibling relationship, and each can be read independently. Maple and Willow Together focuses on issues that arise when two very close sisters (they do everything together) begin to establish their own identities. Kids, especially those with either younger or older siblings, will appreciate the things the sisters do together, their special bond, their issues and resolutions. The expressive pencil artwork is tenderly touching, and, though the story is a common one, this original take is delightfully told.

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What's the story?

Big sister Maple and little sister Willow play, pretend, eat, sleep, and basically do everything together. They love walking in the rain, playing with rocks, building fairy houses, and so on. However, they don't always see eye to eye. Things go smoothly until Willow begins to come into her own and stand up for her opinions: She wants to blow the dandelions into the wind while Maple wants to collect them. One thing leads to another, and soon they have an out-and-out fight, are separated, and are sent to their rooms. After a while apart, they realize how much they miss each other.

Is it any good?

MAPLE AND WILLOW TOGETHER is a happy, simple, enjoyable book that kids, especially those with siblings, will love. The interplay of language and art captures the subtleties of the relationship between the two sisters as they play, fight, and mend their relationship and gives the reader plenty to talk about. The great thing is that, though the reader assumes a parent must have intervened in the fight, no adult ever appears. This is the sisters' story, and they resolve the issue.

Straightforward, expressive text is perfectly complemented by the delicate yet strong pencil illustrations, which are digitally colored. This book celebrates sisterly love, nature, imagination, and independence. It's the perfect book for kids of all ages. And parents reading it aloud will fall in love with these two little sisters and their sweetness. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how the words on each page relate to the illustrations to tell a larger story. How do the drawings fill out and balance the text, especially the emotional part? Also, what's the special language the girls speak?

  • Why do the sisters get along in the first part of the book, even though they don't always agree? What changes when they start arguing about the dandelions? What do they do to resolve the issue? Do you think the experience brings them closer or not?

  • Have you ever had a "breakup" with one of your siblings or a close friend? What happened? Did you make up? How?

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