Sophie Sleeps Over

illus. by Marisabina Russo. 32p. Roaring Brook/Neal Porter. Mar. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781596439337. LC 2013011277.
K-Gr 2—Sophie, a cheerful bunny, is caught off guard when she attends her first birthday sleepover at her best friend's house and discovers that Olive has invited another friend as well. Russo show readers that friendship is not exclusive and can grow to include others. Even though Sophie initially feels like a third wheel and wants to go home, she regains her confidence when she gets to know Penelope. The colorful gouache paintings feature attractive designs on the bunnies' clothing as well as on their sleeping bags and furniture. A great read-aloud and a gentle way to help children consider the idea of expanding their circles of friends.—Blair Christolon, Prince William Public Library System, Manassas, VA
At Olive's sleepover, Penelope purports to be "'Olive's best friend.' 'No, I'm her best friend,' said Sophie." Things come to a head over (protagonist) Sophie's best-friend birthday gift to Olive. After lights-out, the bunny girls reach détente over missing their favorite dolls. Friendship, hurt feelings, homesickness--all are all conveyed with respect and sensitivity in Russo's accessible text and tidy gouache illustrations.
Sophie and Olive are BBFFs (best bunny friends forever). When Olive announces a sleepover birthday party, Sophie is excited to go ("'Sleepover parties are my favorite kind,' said Sophie, even though she had never been to one"). She packs her overnight bag, puts on her tiara, and heads over to Olive's. She gets a rude awakening, though, when she knocks on Olive's front door and it's opened by Penelope, who purports to be "'Olive's best friend.' 'No, I'm her best friend,' said Sophie, but all of a sudden she wasn't so sure." During the party Penelope undercuts her at every turn ("You could just keep score," Penelope suggests during ping-pong), and things come to a head over Sophie's best-friend birthday gift to Olive. After lights-out, though, the competing bunny girls reach détente over their inability to sleep and missing their favorite dolls, paving the way for a new three-way best-friendship. Russo knows her way around drawing rabbit-children (The Bunnies Are Not in Their Beds; A Very Big Bunny, rev. 1/10), and in her tidy gouache illustrations these three bunnies, dressed in their birthday party best, display clear emotions that will be immediately recognizable to young readers and listeners. Friendship bliss, anticipation, hurt feelings, homesickness -- all are familiar to (human) kids and are all conveyed with respect and sensitivity. elissa gershowitz

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