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The Unwilling Twin, by Freya Blackwood

Freya Blackwood can really do no wrong when it comes to picture books - and The Unwilling Twin is no exception.

This fun and charming picture book has really captured Mr 4's imagination - he can't seem to get enough of seeing a pig at the beach - chasing seagulls, rolling in sand and eating ice-cream. He keeps asking for the book about 'the pig at the beach.'

Through its playful narrative and warm exuberant illustrations, this picture book tells a heart-warming story of sibling love (and the occasional disagreement!) Jules has a sometimes unwilling twin named George - who just happens to be a pig! While Jules and George enjoy eating their matching breakfasts and playing all day - there are moments when they disagree and want to do different things - just like any other sibling relationship!

This story beautifully celebrates the rich imagination of childhood. Mr 4 didn't question the premise that Jules' twin happened to be a pig!

The seaside setting is also a winner, evoking long hot summers spent at the beach, and allowing young readers to immerse themselves in the sounds, sights and smells of the beach in summer time. Mr 4 particularly loves the two page spread of Jules and George at the ice cream van (there is something about ice cream in books that always hooks my kids in!)

The understated use of language in the narrative is perfect for this story - with the occasional smattering of alliteration making this a joy to read aloud.

The endearing illustrations focus primarily on Jules and George, centring their child-focussed experiences. The use of delicate pastel colours is perfect for this gently told story. The illustrations work harmoniously with the text, adding to the playful antics and beautifully extending the narrative - as all quality picture books must do.

Also like all great picture books, this one can be enjoyed on one level as a story celebrating play and summer and the beach; and on another level can be used to initiate conversation with young listeners about sibling rivalry, disagreements, and sharing.

Highly recommended.

This picture book was been listed in the 2021 Notable CBCA Book of the Year Awards.

published by Angus&Robertson (An imprint of HarperCollinsChildrensBooks)



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