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*Maple and Willow Apart* by Lori Nichols
Maple and Willow Apart
by Lori Nichols
Ages 3-5 32 pages Nancy Paulsen Books July 2015 Hardcover    

Nichols (Maple and Maple and Willow Together) has written a new picture book about two sisters who miss each other when school begins.

Maple and her younger sister, Willow, have been “playing extra hard” on the last few days of summer. When Willow comes home from kindergarten, the highlights of her day just spill out of her mouth. She talks about her new friend and the fun activities she has in the class and at recess.

Willow feels left out, so she creates an imaginary friend named Pip (an acorn), and she recounts all their exciting adventures to Maple. Willow uses what she sees outside to make up stories. When she tells Maple she has learned to ride, the pencil illustrations show her and Pip (a boy with an acorn hat) on a snail, and the home she visits with Pip is really a nest she has found in a tree.

In their secret language, the sisters tell each other they miss each other, but when Willow gives Maple her acorn to take to school, the girls feel reassured that they are still thinking about each other when they cannot be together.

I have always liked these books because of the characters’ names and the inclusion of trees and nature in the illustrations. In this story, the leaves are turning autumn colors and fallen acorns can be found both inside and outside the house.

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