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Review of Use Your Words, Sophie!

wells_use your words sophie2Use Your Words, Sophie!
by Rosemary Wells; illus. by the author
Preschool   Viking   24 pp.
3/15   978-0-670-01663-1   $16.99   g

Mouse-child Sophie uses lots of words. She welcomes her new baby sister home from the hospital in Jellyfish language (“Jubbabubba”); she growls that she’s “too big for naps” in Hyena language (“Grabvjkloz!”). But her distracted parents — who can’t even agree on the baby’s name — don’t listen, telling her over and over to “use your words, please, Sophie!” Then Sophie sings the “Baboon national anthem…as loud as she could,” and little Ashleigh (or is it Amber?) wakes up screaming and won’t stop. Once again, Granny comes to the rescue (Time-Out for Sophie, rev. 1/13; Sophie’s Terrible Twos, rev. 1/14) — answering Sophie’s Space language greeting in Martian before helping restore the peace. Wells’s cozy ink, watercolor, and gouache illustrations expand on the measured text; her sturdy mouse characters are notably expressive. Sophie and Granny’s special relationship comes across warmly in both text and pictures. With Granny on her side, Sophie doesn’t need the disruptive behavior and — speaking English — offers to hold the howling baby. Sophie and her words finally get baby Samantha Marie (or, wait, Symphonie Pearl?) to stop crying and listen. Sophie listens, too, and tells the grownups: “She wants to be called Jane.” This is a satisfying story with a believable hero whose everyday experiences will resonate with young children…and their parents, if they’re paying attention.

From the March/April 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

About Kitty Flynn

Kitty Flynn is consulting editor for The Horn Book, Inc.

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