Review of Twins

Twins
by Varian Johnson; illus. by Shannon Wright
Intermediate, Middle School    Graphix/Scholastic    256 pp.    g
10/20    978-1-338-23617-0    $24.99
Paper ed.  978-1-338-23613-2    $12.99
e-book ed.  978-1-338-23619-4    $7.99

It’s the first day of sixth grade for the identical Carter twins, and while Maureen is more than content to face the year with her sister the way they always have — together — Francine is ready for a change. Differing class schedules provide Francine with hopes for autonomy, and Maureen with anxiety. Separated from her sister and core friend group, Maureen has no desire to build the self-confidence everyone claims she needs until she is threatened with a less-than-stellar grade in her Youth Cadet Corps class. For extra credit, Maureen runs for president of the student council, with only one obstacle/opposing candidate in her way — Francine. Known as the “talker” as opposed to the “thinker,” Francine has her own reasons for running for office, and — to the chagrin of a well-rounded cast of family and friends — a contentious political season threatens the peace in the Carter household. The story is told largely in Maureen’s voice (her narration appears in rectangular boxes), and judicious use of speech bubbles, white space, and varying perspectives moves this graphic novel along without being obtrusive. Johnson and Wright have expertly teamed up to create a relatable story for all middle schoolers, with distinct reminders — from hair bonnets to an incident of discrimination in a shopping mall — that a majority of the characters are Black. Fans of Raina Telgemeier and Jerry Craft will appreciate the Carter twins’ attempts to maneuver their way through middle school and the political process while learning to act with civility and, above all, as sisters.

From the November/December 2020 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Eboni Njoku
Eboni Njoku is a children’s librarian at the Anacostia Neighborhood Library Branch of the DC Public Library.

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