GEMINI by Sonya Mukherjee is a sensitive, authentic and mesmerizing dual voice novel about conjoined twins who wrestle with thoughts of separation (and the inherent complications of surgery) or staying together.
Clara longs to be single, to be able to move independently of Hailey, to have privacy, to pursue her own goals, to live where she wants to and do things that everyone else takes for granted: driving a car, flying in a plane or making her own decisions instead of always compromising or sacrificing.
She doesn’t like to attract attention to themselves. She doesn’t want to see the stares or hear the comments from onlookers. Her biggest fear is being alone.
Hailey can’t imagine life without her sister, her constant companion. She wants to travel and go to art school outside of their small, cloistered community. Hailey’s attitude is more courageous. She doesn’t worry about being in a relationship or finding love. If someone can’t get past their conjoinedness, they aren’t worthy of them.
She is outspoken and will stand her ground and stand up for Clara. If someone wants to look at them, let them look. Hailey even draws attention to herself with her pink hair, heavy eyeliner and tattoos.
The challenge to writing a dual voiced novel is giving each character a different personality with well-defined goals, dreams, desires and fears and, probably the hardest to achieve, two distinct voices.
I won’t spoil the ending, but will say the author writes with honesty when presenting all sides to surgical separation, the emotional ups and downs of being a senior in high school and keeping the reader in suspense, not knowing what Hailey’s and Clara’s decision will be.
MAMA LION WINS THE RACE by Jon J. Muth is a delightful picture book. The story is about a race with Mama Lion and her Tigey, the Flying Pandinis, the Knitted Monkey Crew and Bun Bun. During the race, Mama Lion points out the world is beautiful and friendly. Suddenly, Tigey swerves to avoid an obstacle in the road. No one is hurt, but the car is damaged. The pandas stop to help, but later have their own car trouble. With unknowing help from the monkeys, the pandas solve their problem. Mama Lion and Tigey are in first place, but make a decision in the name of friendship that will affect the race.
I love so many things about this story. Mama Lion and Tigey (a tiger) are a mixed family, characters are praised and encouraged, they demonstrate helpful behavior and generosity and Tigey learns the true meaning of friendship.
Children will enjoy the bright color palette, the facial expressions of the animals, the whimsical monkeys and the different styled cars.