Whatever Happened To My Sister?

IMG_1226 by Simona Ciraolo (Flying Eye Books, 2015)

Heads up, picture book people: I got to be a guest blogger for Picture Book Idea Month, hosted by Tara Lazar. Have you heard of it? Hope so. It gives all of us something to crowd around and celebrate while all those novelists are cranking out buckets of words. Check it out here.

I wrote about a question my agent asked me recently: what is this thing about about? Not a synopsis of plot points, but on a soul-level, what’s it about about?

That connected with me as a writer big time, but I think it also reveals what I find so compelling about books by other folks as well. This book, Whatever Happened To My Sister? is about about what you lose by growing up. In this case, it’s not that your clothes get smaller or you outgrow some toys. No. In this case, it’s that the very thing that defined your childhood is missing. And that is heartbreaking.

This opening spread.


Here’s a small girl, cheeks all ruddy and knees all scraped up. She’s leaning over a scrapbook of sorts, proof that once upon a time, she had a sister. Not this someone who looks a lot like her, but isn’t.

Using snapshots here lets us into their world, those warm memories, that nostalgia. A smile that’s not quite there anymore.

Throughout, Ciraolo uses muted oranges and blues which is such a lovely combination, both for its complementary-ness and its emotion. Those blues and grays feel cool and sad, while the oranges feel like frustration. Like newness.

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And here, the scenes are just different enough to cause a chasm, but so close at heart. The little’s pumpkin costume mirrors the poofy couch of the older. It’s beautiful and tender and heart-clutch-y all at once.

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Same red cheeks, just older. But a slam that swooshes the little’s dress and hair.

And then time.

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Time turned back.

A lovely, lovely book. The illustrations have so much charm and life in the lines, and this is a beautiful picture book for when you’ve grown out of the bringing-home-baby ones. Because those babies grow up, and childhood changes.


PS: Another Simona Ciraolo favorite is Hug Me, and if you head over to This Picture Book Life, Danielle has an adorable cactus craft you could make!


  • Posted November 17, 2015 at 6:49 am | Permalink

    Simona has such beautiful illustrations (‘Hug Me’ is one of my favorite picture books), they convey so much emotion with so little and the concept behind the story is really sweet. It made me really nostalgic just by reading these few pages.

  • Erin
    Posted November 17, 2015 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    What a beauty! Man, oh man, that Flying Eye–their books just sing.

  • Posted November 17, 2015 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

    I LOVE this book! She can do no wrong. And love what you said about how the color palette works here—thanks for the craft link too!

  • Posted November 17, 2015 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    Wow, this is like a knife in your heart, in a good way. Thank you!

  • Posted November 17, 2015 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

    Lurve Simona’s style!