Cover image for Real sisters pretend
Real sisters pretend
Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 27 cm
Reading Level:
AD 470 L Lexile
Added Author:
"As they play, Mia and Tayja confirm that there's one thing they don't have to pretend: They know in their hearts that they're real sisters, even though others don't always recognize this since they're adopted and don't look alike. Safe in the knowledge that adoption has made them "forever family," the sisters end their make-believe journey with a joyful homecoming to a real home with their two moms."--Jacket flap.


Material Type
Call Number
Item Available
Book EASY LAM 1 1
Book EASY LAM 1 1

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"I liked how they took care of one another in their pretend-play scenario about climbing a mountain," Lambert says, "and I loved how they also took care of one another's feelings as they talked about adoption. REAL SISTERS PRETEND captures these interactions perfectly and movingly.Told with simple words and playful illustrations, this book touches on the topics of adoption, two moms, and multiracial family life.Modern families can look very different from the nuclear families of yesteryear, but as Lambert says in the book's introduction, "No matter how a family comes to be, the most important thing is for everyone to feel loved, safe, and cared for." REAL SISTERS PRETEND is a great vehicle for sharing that love and reassurance.Fountas & Pinnell Level L

Author Notes

MEGAN DOWD LAMBERT teaches in the graduate programs in Children's Literature at Simmons College. At the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art she developed two original storytime models, the Whole Book Approach and A Book in Hand, which are aimed at engaging readers with the picture book as a visual art form. A frequent speaker at professional conferences, schools, libraries, and museums, she reviews children's books for Kirkus Reviews and the Horn Book and contributes to Horn Book Magazine's "Books in the Home" column. A mother of six children ranging from infancy to college--aged, Megan lives with her family in Massachusetts. Her books include A Crow of His Own and Reading Picture Books with Children: How to Shake Up Storytime and Get Kids Talking about What They See.

NICOLE TADGELL 'S illustrations have been featured in The Encyclopedia of Writing and Illustrating Children's Books and in numerous exhibitions. She has taught workshops and classes at the Worcester Art Museum, the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, and at Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) conferences. Nicole also lectures at New England schools and colleges and demonstrates the picture book process in classrooms, libraries, and bookstores. Her award--winning children's books include First Peas to the Table , In the Garden with Dr. Carver , Lucky Beans , and Fatuma's New Cloth.

Reviews 4

School Library Journal Review

PreS-Gr 2-In her author's note, Lambert describes how closely this story parallels the experience of her own adopted daughters. She was inspired to write it after overhearing how baffled they were by a stranger asking if they were "real sisters." Tadgell's lively watercolors depict Tayja, an African American girl of about seven, and Mia, a white preschooler with curly dark hair, who laugh at the absurdity of such a question. As they play, they imagine themselves as hiking princesses climbing up and down mountains, but when Mia says, "Let's pretend we are sisters," Tayja says, "No, Mia, we don't have to pretend that. We are sisters. Real sisters." Mia happily recalls how Tayja welcomed her to the family and shared her stuffed lion. They both relive how the judge let them bang his gavel when Mia's adoption was finalized, and concluded that they understood about adoption. Their happy faces and whimsical game of make-believe will engage young readers, and children who live in families touched by adoption will likely find the underlying message positive and affirming. Revealed in the last few pages is yet another way this family could be considered different-there are two mothers. Momma's reaction to the woman in the grocery store who asks if they are "real" sisters is a simple, direct statement: "Of course they are!" The girls are secure in their knowledge that they are part of a real, loving family with both Momma and Mommy. VERDICT This is an appealing story, recommended for general purchase, especially where Patricia Polacco's In Our Mother's House and Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell's And Tango Makes Three are popular.-Deborah Vose, Highlands Elementary School, Braintree, MA © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publisher's Weekly Review

Tayja and Mia may enjoy pretending to be "hiking princesses" who must scale the mountains of the family sofa, but as older sister Tayja makes clear, there's nothing pretend about them being sisters, even though they don't look alike (Tayja has brown skin, Mia white). "We are sisters," she says, staring into Mia's eyes. "Real sisters." In an extended dialogue between the girls, Lambert (A Crow of His Own) highlights the small but important conversations that happen among siblings trying to understand their place in the world and within their families. Tadgell (Friends for Freedom) emphasizes the girls' closeness in warm watercolor-and-pencil vignettes that show them talking about being adopted by two mothers (one is white, the other of Asian background) while playing with their stuffed toy lion, having a snack, and generally hanging all over each other. The sisters also talk frankly about the fact that "some people" don't instinctively see them as a family, remembering a recent grocery store encounter. Though the story is somewhat message-heavy, it's still a useful reminder of the varied ways families can take shape. Ages 4-7. (May) c Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Horn Book Review

[Books by Horn Book reviewers are not reviewed; we provide notice of publication and descriptive comment.] Young Mia asks Tayja to play make-believe princesses who are sisters. "We are sisters," says Tayja (who has dark skin), firmly reassuring her adoptive sibling (whose skin is lighter). "Real sisters." And they are also loved very much by their two moms. As explained in an introductory note, the story, cheerfully illustrated, was inspired by two of Lambert's own daughters. (c) Copyright 2016. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Review

An adoption story explores the concept of "real sisters." It is obvious that Tadgell's sisters are not biologically related: Tayja is black, her hair in a topknot ponytail, while Mia is lighter-skinned with bright green eyes and tousled, short dark brown hair. But nevertheless, the two are real sistersadoption made them so. Lambert's purposive tale follows the two as they play a game of pretend princesses climbing a mountain (the sofa). Mia is still getting the hang of pretending (she thought the word was "betend"), so when she suggests they pretend to be sisters, Tayja holds Mia's face in her hands, the two touching foreheads, and states, "No, Miawe don't have to pretend that. We are sisters. Real sisters." She then helps Mia recall how they were adopted and became sisters and addresses the issue of outsiders' comments and queries. (Further pushing the diversity of this family, it is headed by two moms.) The story is told entirely in the color-coded dialogue bubbles between the two sisters, which means the girls sometimes sound stilted and unnatural. But their interactions and pure joy in togetherness are anything but in the watercolor illustrations. Adoption is such an individual event that it is difficult for one picture book to address every situation and circumstance. This is best used as a discussion starter with adopted children and for the outsiders who don't understand that adoption creates families. (author's note) (Picture book. 3-8) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.