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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
by Sonja Bougaeva
Age Range: Under_5
Two sisters live happily, but somewhat chaotically, together on an island where they are completely self-sufficient. One day the mail boat brings them a letter from their cousin John who is planning to visit them. At first the sisters are delighted to have a visitor but they are soon in for a shock as he turns their world up-side-down. John thinks they live in such a mess and sets out to do something about it. First, he fixes the leaking tap, then the lamp in the hallway and from these small jobs it becomes his mission to sort out their lives in every way!
This story has many nuances and much wisdom. Russian born author and illustrator Sonja Bougaeva has produced an insightful picture book that deals with an age-old problem of the guest who outstays their welcome. First, the sisters are tolerant of their visitor because he means well and they donít wish to offend him. But their politeness is pushed to the limits as their cousin increasingly takes over all aspects of their lives.
The characterisation is beautifully illustrated capturing the progress of Johnís visit from his helpful DIY in the early days, to his positive interfering towards the end of his visit. As the sistersí environment changes they are portrayed with gradually slumping shoulders and increasingly unhappy countenances. The sisterís relief is palpable by the end of the story when cousin John finally decides to leave.