Thursday, March 22, 2012
Written by Frieda Wishinsky
Illustrated by Marie-Louise Gay
(Groundwood Books, 2007)
There is nothing worse than a little sister. Except perhaps a little brother. Or an older brother. Or an older sister.
To be sure, it is a challenge growing up with one or more siblings. When you and best bud Billy disagree over whether Superman or Spiderman rules, you (or Billy) can stomp away and retreat to your own home. But with a sister or brother, there is no escape. Even if you are lucky enough to have your own room, a KEEP OUT sign and a barricaded door aren’t enough (especially when bean bags and pillows are the only things you can lug over to block entry).
In Please, Louise!, Jake cannot escape his lively little sister, Louise. It makes no difference whether he begs or orders her to go away. Nope, she’s here to stay.
Reasoning does not work:
“I’ll move and you’ll never find me,” said Jake.
“I’ll find you,” said Louise. “I know your name.”
“I’ll change my name,” said Jake.
“I’ll always know your face,” said Louise.
“I’ll wear a disguise,” said Jake.
“You can’t change your voice,” said Louise.
“Yes, I can,” growled Jake.
“You’re my brother,” said Louise. “You can’t change that.”
Ugh! Takes me back to my own childhood (although my siblings today would unite and say I was the pesky Louise). Yes, the story is relatable to all of us who’ve ever craved downtime. But then what happens when there is finally a moment of solitude? (Yes, Jake finally gets what he wants.) Can we savor the silence or, instead, do we finally come to appreciate the Louise in our life?
Marie-Louise Gay’s illustrations bring out the personalities of Jake and Louise to make Frieda Wishinsky’s story even stronger. In somewhat of a gender role reversal, Jake is the one craving quiet time to read a book while Louise is the imp who bounces about with a party horn and soccer ball—inside the house (GASP!). She literally swings from the light fixture. Thankfully, Jake is not stereotyped as a fusspot. His hair is almost as unruly as Louise’s. (Wild hair is a Marie-Louise Gay trademark. See Yuck, a Love Story.) He packs a suitcase in such a way that half the contents will not make it from Point A to Point B. Most amusingly, when he searches the shed, he leaves a messy trail in his wake.
Give Please, Louise! a read. I’m not sure that it will create more tolerance amongst siblings, but it might allow those of us who survived childhood an opportunity to appreciate the fact we have our own place while still being nostalgic over all our attempts to ward off (or bother) our beloved brothers and sisters.