The Lemon Sisters

When the girls with the blue hat, yellow hat, and red hat wake to a world covered in white, they hurry outside to play. What could be more fun than a day spent building a snow house with your sisters? Little do they know it, but their happiness is also warming the lonely heart of a neighbor lady whose own sisters moved away long ago. A cold day gives way to warm surprises as Andrea Cheng gives voice to the magic of sisterhood, a bond that lasts a lifetime.

Little Blue
Little Red
Little Yellow
Author perspective

After a heavy snowfall, my children went outside to play. After they had been gone for several hours, I went out to check on them. They had created snow chairs for themselves around a gingko tree, and were immersed in their pretend world of going to the grocery store and cooking oatmeal. As I watched them play, I noticed an old lady standing at the window of a nearby house, watching. I knew her a little bit. She had hip trouble and could not walk up and down the stairs of her home. She waved to me and smiled. This was the seed of The Lemon Sisters.

School Library Journal

An elderly woman watches from her window as three young sisters play outside in the snow. She reminisces about the times long ago when she did the same with her own siblings, Rita and Mae. After opening the door and offering lemon and sugar to the children, the woman tells them how to make lemon ice. Later in the day, Rita and Mae make a surprise visit for their sister's 80th birthday. The girls help celebrate by preparing a snow party complete with a snow cake, snow chairs, and the best lemon ices ever. Mai-Wyss's attractive illustrations, done in watercolor, gouache, and collage, are filled with colorful patterns, from woolen knit caps and other items of clothing to bright checkered tablecloths and various interior details. Endpapers featuring a sheet of notebook paper with a rebus recipe for making lemon ices extend the reading experience. Despite the snowy backdrop, this book leaves readers with a warm glow inside. Blair Christolon, Prince William Public Library System, Manassas, VA Copyright Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. - Jan 2006


PreS-Gr. 2. In this charming intergenerational story, two groups of three sisters come together on a snowy day. The narrator, celebrating her eightieth birthday, is nostalgic as she watches three young girls (Red Hat, Blue Hat, and Yellow Hat) playing in the snow and recalls how she played with her own siblings, Rita and Mae, before they grew up and moved away. Remembering how they made lemon ice with fresh snow, she offers the Hats the ingredients for the treat. Melancholy, the woman takes a nap, only to be awakened by a knock at the door. Children may expect the little girls, but it's Rita and Mae, surprising their sister on her birthday. Their joy is enhanced when Red, Blue, and Yellow Hat join the party with some surprises of their own. Wistful memories of the elderly may not seem the stuff of picture books, but Cheng lightens them and tightens them to the girls' play as Mai-Wyss brings out the shared feelings of fun and delight in her delicate watercolors. Endearing, this will be a place for conversations to start between young and old. Ilene Cooper Copyright American Library Association. All rights reserverd - Jan 2006

Book type: 
Picture book
Tatjana Mai-Wyss
Publication date: 
Jan 2006
Interest level: 
Ohioana Book Award, Jan 2007
2007 Bank Street College Best Children’s Books of the Year, Jan 2007