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Maggie Can’t Wait

by Frieda Wishinsky; Dean Griffiths, illus.

Many readers first met Frieda Wishinsky’s delightful heroine in 2002’s Give Maggie a Chance, but both those new to and familiar with Maggie will warm to this latest story. Here we find the little cat – all the characters are cats – bursting with excitement at the impending arrival of an adopted baby sister. Maggie is convinced that everyone will be full of admiration for the little kitten, so imagine her anguish when the class bully says the baby is ugly. Suddenly, Maggie is full of doubt and confusion, a state that worsens considerably when her best friend appears to side with the bully.

Maggie overdramatizes her situation in a way that many parents will find amusing and familiar. Children will appreciate the humour, too, as Maggie decides that it would be better to do anything – even eat worms – than have this sister in her life.

Wishinsky is a skilled storyteller with a gift for believable language and situations. The rhythmic, expressive text makes this a great read-aloud book for younger children. Without judgment, Wishinsky deftly conveys a child’s fears and uncertainties in the face of peer disapproval. Young readers will readily identify with Maggie as she swoops from elation to shame to hopelessness as she realizes she has no control over her parents’ decision. Though the story gently addresses the subject of adoption, all expectant parents will find that Maggie’s changing emotions and eventual acceptance provide an encouraging message for dealing with the prospect of a new addition to the family.

Dean Griffiths’ soft, pastel-coloured illustrations are slightly old-fashioned, but this is a minor point as they perfectly capture the characters’ expressions and the gentle mood of the book and add humour and empathy to the story. When at last we meet Maggie’s little sister, the building tension falls away, and the little kitten turns out to be as irresistible as Maggie first imagined.