They say that play is the “work” of children and from those experiences they can learn a great deal — including “resilience.” Yet I remember, during my education coursework, that the way we were told to distinguish between fighting and friendly roughhousing was to check the expressions on the children’s faces. If they looked happy, it was all fun and games; if they looked upset, it was time to step in. So, sometimes, the most important thing for children to learn about their playtime is to basically lighten up and regard their back-and-forth as part of developing friendships and camaraderie.
I can see that the Holm’s both learned this lesson in childhood as they’ve grown to work together creating many wonderful books, like this one. Here, the “evil” witch sister and “brave” knight brother share medieval power struggles, time outs, painful realizations, and some good old fashioned fun. The binding and printing it first-rate. The illustrations and text share a breezy freshness that alone should help communicate that even when play is “work,” they don’t have to take it all too seriously.