Real Sisters Pretend

Real Sisters PretendReal Sisters Pretend

By Megan Dowd Lambert and illustrated by Nicole Tadgell 

Hardcover, $16.95
ISBN 978-0-88448-441-7
9 x 10, 32 pages, color illustrations
Paperback edition, November 2019  978-088448-784-5

Where to get a real copy for yourself:

rsp signing w girls

This warm, engaging story, which unfolds entirely through the conversation of two adopted sisters, was inspired by the author’s own daughters, whom she overheard talking about how adoption made them “real sisters” even though they have different birth parents and do not look alike. “I liked how they took care of one another in their pretend-play scenario about climbing a mountain,” Lambert says, “and I loved how they also took care of one another’s feelings as they talked about adoption.” Real Sisters Pretend captures these interactions perfectly and movingly.

Here’s a link to an essay I wrote for Embrace Race that shares how two of my daughters inspired this book: Real Sisters and Brothers. It includes this photo from our book launch, where my daughters signed copies alongside me and illustrator Nicole Tadgell.

Praise for Real Sisters Pretend: 

I am delighted that Real Sisters Pretend was included as a Must Read title in the Picture Book/Early Reader category of the 17th Annual Massachusetts Book Awards, which “recognize significant works of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and children’s/young adult literature published by Commonwealth residents or about Massachusetts subjects.”

I am so grateful to the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) and the Children’s Book Council for naming Real Sisters Pretend as a Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People. This annual reading list of exceptional books for use in social studies classrooms is selected by social studies educators. The bibliography features K-12 annotated titles published in the previous calendar year, selected by a book review committee appointed by the NCSS.

Many thanks to everyone at the Cooperative Children’s Book Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison for including Real Sisters Pretend on their CCBC Choices 2017 list. It’s under the heading “Understanding Oneself and Others,” and I am thrilled to see it alongside some remarkable titles from 2016.

I am delighted to announce that the Center for the Study of Multicultural Children’s Literature has included Real Sisters Pretend on its CSMCL Best Books of 2016. What an honor to have our picture book included with these other wonderful titles!

“Where was Real Sisters Pretend when I was growing up as an adoptee? This heartfelt and loving story is essential for those in the adoption community. It’s a positive reinforcement of the simple truth that people can look different and still be a family unit. A must-have picture book, especially in today’s world of varying family structures.” —Chris Soentpiet, illustrator of Jin WooAmazing Faces, My Brother Martin, and other books for young readers

“…happy faces and whimsical game of make-believe will engage young readers, and children who live in families touched by adoption will likely find the underlying message positive and affirming…The girls are secure in their knowledge that they are part of a real, loving family with both Momma and Mommy. VERDICT This is an appealing story, recommended for general purchase...—Deborah Vose, Highlands Elementary School, Braintree, MA, School Library Journal

ILA signing w nicole tadgell rsp

Book Signing at ILA 2016

“Lambert (A Crow of His Own) highlights the small but important conversations that happen among siblings trying to understand their place in the world and within their families. Tadgell (Friends for Freedom) emphasizes the girls’ closeness in warm watercolor-and-pencil vignettes that show them talking about being adopted by two mothers (one is white, the other of Asian background) while playing with their stuffed toy lion, having a snack, and generally hanging all over each other.” Publisher’s Weekly

“In this joyful story, two adopted girls climb imaginary mountains together as they play, forging a life-long sisterhood. What an apt metaphor, given that non-traditional families scale mountains, big and small, daily. Real Sisters Pretend empowers adopted children to find belonging and strength in the loving nests of new siblings and unique families.” —Anne Brennan Belden, M.Sc. (Human Development/Family Relations), Adoption and Parenting Coach, adoptive mom

“Modern families can look very different from the nuclear families of yesteryear, but no matter how a family comes to be, the most important thing is for everyone to feel loved, safe, and cared for. Real Sisters Pretend is a great vehicle for sharing that love and reassurance.” – Children’s Book Council

[P]ure joy in togetherness…in the watercolor illustrations.” Kirkus Reviews

I’m so pleased to share this National Adoption Month review from Mombian, excerpted here:

“I love seeing this tale of siblings. So many books about children with same-sex parents focus on the relationship of a child to the parents—important, to be sure, but hardly the whole picture of what family can mean. The illustrations by Nicole Tadgell further convey the loving and fun relationship between the sisters…Kudos to Lambert for giving voice to at least one of those stories. Real Sisters Pretend is an obvious recommendation for many adoptive families—but also for any families hoping to share with their kids the many ways that families may form.”

RSP school visit

Many thanks to Charnaie of Here Wee Read for this thoughtful write-up about Real Sisters Pretend. She is not an adoptive mom, and I so appreciate how she embraces our picture book as one that can be both instructive about family diversity and also enjoyable in its depiction of sibling play. She writes:

“I think this book can can open the door to initiate discussion about adoption and non-traditional families. I’m not sure what age children usually start comprehending concepts like adoption, but I think this book would be great to initiate discussion with kids ages 5 and up. I think it’s a cute book for all kids, not just kids from adoptive families. A very sweet story about how families don’t always have to look alike to have love.”

Thanks to bookseller, blogger, and one of my favorite book-people to follow on Twitter, Alia Jones, for this lovely write-up at Read It Real Good, which I’ve excerpted here:

“I like the way Megan Dowd Lambert and Nicole Tadgell craft the story and illustrations to create a conversation…Readers will enjoy Tadgell’s beautiful watercolor illustrations; she brings these girls, their sweet relationship and loving family to life. When I first saw the cover of this book months ago, I was drawn to the image of two brown girls embracing; it’s powerful! Real Sisters Pretend is a lovely and important book that can help adopted children make sense of people who “just don’t get” what they naturally understand. I think any child with siblings or cousins will connect to Mia and Tayja.”

Take a look at this wonderful interview “Illustrating Love” by Terry Farish with illusNickie-moleskinsketch-1024x600trator Nicole Tadgell. It includes several examples of process work, including these sketches:

Coloring Pages to Download

Created by illustrator Nicole Tadgell. Download all 5 coloring pages here.