My five-year-old daughters are starting to understand that having a twin is different from a typical sibling relationship. In November, when I last discussed my daughters’ “twinship,” they insisted that they did not look alike. Today, they’ve refined their response:
Mommy: M, do you and S look alike?
M: Yes, but our faces are a little different. S’s face is an oval, and mine is a circle.
Mommy: Why do you look so much alike?
M: Because we’re twins.
Mommy: S, do you and M look alike?
Mommy: Why not?
S: Because we have different socks.
True, they rarely wear matching clothing, a difference that does not prevent their friends and acquaintances from mixing them up. Neither does a five-pound weight difference nor their distinctive personalities.
As their parents, one of our goals is to encourage our daughters to explore their individuality while preserving their close bond, and we use books to help get this message across, such as Keith Baker’s No Two Alike (2011).*
This charming picture book follows a pair of red birds as they explore snowflakes, nests, tracks, branches, forests, trees, fences, roads, bridges, houses, and friends, showing us that no two are exactly alike: “Almost, almost… but not quite.”
My twins listened attentively to the sparsely-worded story (which is probably best for slightly younger children), and enjoyed the beautiful illustrations, until we got stuck on one of the wintry scenes toward the end, featuring the red birds, a family of deer, a pair of foxes, and two bears. One of my girls (S.) piped up, “Hey, those bears should be hibernating! This story doesn’t make any sense!”
I am no expert on Ursus americanus or Ursus arctos (I’m a city girl), and so I decided to find out whether it would be unusual to see a pair of bears frolicking in the snow (what did parents do before the Internet?!). A quick Google search for “bears in the snow” revealed a few pictures of black and brown bears and bear tracks in the snow. It also indicated that while bears do not hibernate in a true sense, they are effectively out of commission for five to eight months of the year, during which time they could wake up if disturbed. So, maybe Baker’s bears are highly agitated and headed back to sleep? Or, despite the bare branches, maybe it’s a late snowfall or a place with snow most of the year?
At least that’s what I told S., because she’s a kid who won’t just let little logical errors like that go. On that issue, her twin is the same.
*Many thanks to Katie at Youth Literature Reviews for recommending this book.