Review Blog

Nov 18 2020

The unwilling twin by Freya Blackwood

cover image

Angus & Robertson, 2020. ISBN: 9781460757536.
(Age: 3+) Highly recommended. Jules does everything with her twin brother, George. They are identical twins, right down to the birthmark on each of their bottoms. They get up in the morning and practise their yoga together, they don their identical jumpsuits and eat breakfast together, then play together all day long. In summer they go to the beach, wearing their identical swimsuits, sunglasses and hats. They frolic on the sand, collect shells, look at the other bathers and get into the water, although George is not too keen on the waves.
Readers will by now be rolling about on the floor with helpless laughter at George's antics, paralleling those of Jules, but noticing that something is a little different. Kids of all ages will love seeing the humour behind Jules' assumption that she and George are identical, seeing George get up to the sort of things that pigs do well, but also going along with Jules as his playmate. But at the beach, George falls asleep, dreaming of lolling about in a bath of mud, while Jules builds a sand castle.
She imagines the two of them living in the castle, but when she calls out to George she cannot find him at all.
Pencil, watercolour and pastel were used by Freya Blackwood for her distinctive illustrations. The title and publications pages showcase framed photos of the pair from newborn, seeing Father Christmas, donning tutus for a performance and blowing candles out on their third birthday cake. Readers will get a thrill seeing Jules and George doing the same sort of things they have done and recognise stages in their lives that are similar. Blackwood's illustrations fill the pages with beautiful images of family life, culminating in the wonderful sweeping images of children at play at the beach. All the fun of the beach is shown: the long hot drive there, setting up a spot for the umbrella, chasing seagulls, collecting shells, eating an icecream, and playing in the water.
A small disagreement occurs when George wakes and want to play, but Jules is not too willing. But like all siblings, the disagreement is soon resolved and an icecream settles the day.
This charming tale of siblings, of identity, of getting along with others will find an instant audience, asking for it to be read out loud over and over, reprising trips they have had to the beach with their families, laughing at Blackwood's gentle humour.
Theme: Sibling rivalry, Twins, Identity, Beach, Family life, Humour.
Fran Knight

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