From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 3--After a handful of books featuring Jamaica, the title of this story signals a shift of the limelight to Brianna. The two young friends are to dance in a ballet recital, cast as a sunflower and a bumblebee. Both girls admire and slightly envy Brianna's older sister, Nikki, who is featured as the butterfly queen. Somewhat predictably, Nikki falls ill and Brianna, who has learned the coveted role, is prepared to step in. But, in a surprise twist, she also comes down with the bug and the show goes on without either of them. The narration then turns to the two sick girls at home on the night of the recital. When they are well, they get together with Jamaica to perform for their families. This author/illustrator team works well together in portraying realistic children in an ethnically diverse setting. Each child in the ballet class has a distinct physical appearance that suggests an individual personality. The girls' families are supportive and involved. The watercolor-and-pastel illustrations of the various places, dance movements, and costumes are affectionately real-not slick or romanticized. Readers who have come to enjoy the earlier books for their calm and sensible approach to the everyday dilemmas that Jamaica faces will certainly want to read this one. Newcomers will, too.Dorian Chong, San Jose State University, CA
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
Ages 4-8. The latest Brianna and Jamaica picture book is as warm and realistic as the others, hopeful despite failure and disappointment and rooted in a diverse neighborhood. This time the focus is on Asian American Brianna, who badly wants to play the lead as butterfly queen in the dance recital. She is jealous that her older sister, Nikki, gets the big part and the best costume, while Brianna and Jamaica only get to be flowers and bees. Then Nikki gets sick. Many children will relate to the dreams of stardom and the rivalry between the sisters, and O'Brien's watercolor-and-pastel illustrations capture the excitement of the dance class, both the group action and the individual children. The pictures also show the anger and the support at home, and, always, the bond between close friends. Hazel RochmanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved