One More Candle- Written by Merry Susiarjo and Illustrated by Emmeline Pidgen
At any given moment in our house, you will likely hear the infectious laughter of my two girls as they run around, cracking each other up, and squealing with delight. However, those moments are fleeting and are usually interrupted by screams of pain or tears when hair is pulled or the play gets a little too rough. I watch lovingly as my girls share intense moments of pure joy, but cringe as I try to guide each of them as they suffer through moments of jealousy, envy, and sibling rivalry. A solid five years separates the two of them, and my oldest sometimes struggles with not being the only child anymore. My youngest pelts out her anger and frustration in temper tantrums and tears because at 15 months old she cannot yet communicate exactly why my hugging her older sister makes her so mad. Meanwhile, I struggle with this idea that sometimes my little one only wants her big sister to make her feel better after a tumble and not her mom. Sometimes, sisters just need each other. It is for these reasons that I think all three of us fell in love with the book One More Candle.
One More Candle, written by Merry Susiarjo and illustrated by Emmeline Pidgen, is the story of Nola and how the only thing that she wants in the whole wide world is to have the same number of candles on her birthday cake as her older sister, Betty. To little Nola, the year that separates the two sisters may as well be a hundred years. Each year, the two sisters have a shared birthday party with the same number of guests, same number of presents, and the same cake. But, there is one glaring distinction- Betty has one more candle on her cake. Nora begs and pleads with her parents to add another candle, but they tell her she isn't old enough to have that extra candle. They don't seem to understand just how important this is to her.
Nora goes on a quest to find someone, anyone, something who will light up one more candle for her. She turns to fireflies, the moon, the sun, and many other things that give light. But, they don't seem to have light to share with her. As the next joint birthday party approaches, Betty finds an incredibly heartwarming way to make Nora feel better, showing just how special that bond between sisters truly can be.
Often when my oldest and I read at bedtime, my daughter will doodle to keep her hands busy as she listens to the books.. She was doing this when I began reading One More Candle to her for the first time, but by the end, she had pushed her pen and paper aside and had snuggled up in the crook of my arm to get the best look at the illustrations. When I got done reading, I looked at her and said, "So honey, did you like that book?" She shook her head no. I was certainly dumbfounded, given how engaged she was as I read. She quickly added, "No, I don't like this book. I absolutely love this book. Betty is such a great big sister." I could see the wheels in her brain spinning, imagining how she, too, could be such a great big sister. (Although, she already is such a great big sister.)
This book is a rare gem in the way it addresses sibling rivalry by focusing on the positive aspects of the special bond shared between siblings. In most books about siblings, the struggle is usually between the "bratty" or "annoying" sibling and how they torture their brother or sister. Rarely do you find a story where the main character struggles with this more subtle form of sibling rivalry that isn't caused or instigated by the brother or sister. This book does not include any of the typical teasing and banter you find in most other books that deal with sibling relationships, but instead you find two sisters that are supportive of each other even when the reason their feelings are hurt is intrinsically linked to the other person. One of my favorite illustrations in this book is when Betty climbs in bed with a very sad and hurt Nola, snuggles up with her under the covers, and tries to make her feel better. There is a look of genuine concern on Betty's face in the picture that portrays a kind and patient sisterly love, not the demanding, sarcastic sisterly relationships we so often see on TV and in other texts.
What really makes this book shine is how the illustrations perfectly reflect the warmness and love shown in the text of the story. The images are delicate, detailed, and calming, which makes it an excellent bedtime story. There are several pages where I thought to myself that I would like to own a print of the illustration, especially the final image of the girls hugging.
This book is the perfect read for any parent wanting to promote positive and strong sibling relationships, especially the bong between sisters. It is my hope that my girls' love for each other will only grow stronger through the years, and that they will be able to find a way to make those uneasy moments of sibling rivalry bring their relationship closer, just as Betty and Nola so perfectly show in this book.
You can follow the illustrator on Twitter @emmelinedraws.
To purchase the book, please check out it out from Amazon- http://amzn.com/2954371218.
* I was given this book free-of-charge by the author in exchange for my honest opinion. All opinions expressed are my own.
|My girls sharing a moment of sisterly love at the Decatur Book Festival after the Children's Book Parade, where they dressed up as the Very Hungry Caterpillar and the butterfly from Eric Carle's book.|