Byrne’s sophomore effort fills another rather empty niche and looks at the life of an only child.
On the heels of her debut exploring a grandparent-led family (Sometimes It’s Grandmas and Grandpas, Not Mommies and Daddies, 2009), Byrne depicts the unnamed narrator as having mixed feelings about being an only child (another upward demographic trend). While he gets to be the middle of his parents’ snuggle sandwich in bed on Saturday mornings and never has to share the red bowl like the kids in his cousin Nico’s family, it might be nice to always have someone to “watch TV with. Climb trees with. Or spit watermelon seeds at.” Mom and Dad play with the young boy, but when they are called away by the telephone, he is left to play by himself. But not all the examples that Byrne provides will give readers a clear idea of the pros and cons of being an only child; indeed, some seem randomly dropped into the book, and the language is often wishy-washy: “I figure, either way I’m okay. / With other people around / or when it’s just me, / by myself.” What ultimately sinks this, though, is the lack of a story arc. A boy examines his feelings, but there is no crisis or turning point, so the titular declaration rings a little hollow.
While the grass is often greener, only children will get little—positive or negative—out of this attempt at bibliotherapy. (Picture book. 4-8)