When I was a child, one of my favourite picture books was called Gabrielle and Selena. It was written by Peter Desbarats and illustrated by Nancy Grossman, and I have kept my original copy for many years!

The cover is all tattered now, and inside the pictures are only in black and white. It’s very different from the bright and colourful picture books you get today. But the story is so charming and the characters so beautifully drawn that it became a treasure I saved for my own children.

Gabrielle and Selena are best friends and do everything together. One day Gabrielle decides she is bored with her ordinary life and she wants to be Selena instead. Selena insists that her life is pretty boring too, so she doesn’t mind being Gabrielle for a while. They do a magic dance, and presto! Gabrielle and Selena swap places.

The girls’ families are a bit puzzled at first, but soon they decide that it will be fun to play a trick on the girls. Gabrielle’s mum tells Selena that omelettes are her favourite food and that she hates chocolate cake, never watches television and always goes to bed at 7:30.

Selena’s dad tells Gabrielle that she always washes the dishes, she hates chocolate ice cream and she loves to sleep outside on the back porch! By the end of the evening, both Gabrielle and Selena are completely fed up. (You can see in the drawing of Gabrielle washing the dishes what she thinks of Selena’s life!)

At the same moment both girls decide it’s time to go home. They meet half-way and get in a big argument about the horrible things they like to do. “I wouldn’t be you for all the money in the world,” says Gabrielle. Selena feels the same way, until they realise that all the terrible things they are meant to like were just made up. When they figure out the trick their parents have played on them, they start to laugh!

You can see why I have kept this book for so long. Do you have a favourite book you want to keep forever? Why not click on the little speech bubble next to the date of this post and tell me about it?

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