Pinkie isn’t her real name but she’s always been called that because she’s always been the smallest in the family. And that’s how she likes it. But now things are different and Pinkie is NOT happy. When her baby brother arrives she’s even less impressed and only behaves herself for as long as it takes to get her present.

Boo is a monkey. Who knows where he comes from but suddenly he is catapulted into Pinkie’s world. That might not even be his real name but it’s what Pinkie calls him (for nefarious reasons of her own). When Pinkie’s good behaviour breaks, she and Boo are sent outside where they both get a surprise. Pinkie discovers that Boo can talk and Boo finds it surprising that she is surprised.

All Pinkie wants is to be noticed so she and Boo come up with some FANTASTIC ideas to make that happen. But even their best ideas don’t work so they go to Pinkie’s room to think about why. And there, they come up with an even better plan.

Picture books about new siblings often make me want to run away and hide. They have a tendency to be teeth-achingly sweet and cute, and toe-curlingly sentimental. But here Chae Strathie and Francis Martin have created something funny and clever and real. Chae’s story is simple and subtle but told with a glint in his eye. And Francis’ illustrations are a triumph. He catches Pinkie’s moods beautifully. And I love the way that some of the drawings are still in the process of being coloured.

I’m always interested in the relationship between the text and the illustrations in a picture book and I particularly enjoy it when they tell different stories or perspectives. In Pinkie and Boo there’s a lovely element of doubt too: does Pinkie know that she’s behaving badly or does she actually think that she and Boo have tried their very best? It can be read either way and will doubtless be interpreted in the light of individual circumstances.

This is a fine book for a big sister who needs the world to understand how unfair life can be – and maybe to show her that younger siblings aren’t always a bad thing. Now, do I keep my copy or pass it on to my own naughty little sister to help her see the trouble she’s caused me over the last fifty years…


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