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ALWAYS MY BROTHER by Jean Reagan

ALWAYS MY BROTHER

By Jean Reagan (Author) , Phyllis Pollema-Cahill (Illustrator)

Age Range: 5 - 9

Pub Date: June 1st, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-88448-313-7
Publisher: Tilbury House

“My brother John and I were best buddies,” Becky tells readers. They played soccer and took care of their dog together. John always worked to josh Becky out of her bad moods. “But that was all before—before John died.” Reagan, who writes from experience, having lost her own son, zeroes in on Becky’s grieving process, leaving the specifics of the circumstances of John’s death unmentioned and not even alluding to her parents’ sadness. This will likely frustrate children who want a story, but it makes this book especially apt for use with children going through their own losses. Becky’s very believable emergence from despair, complete with concomitant anxiety—“I forgot to miss John”—will serve as a model for grieving children. Pollema-Cahill’s bland watercolors depict a blondly Caucasian family in suburban Anywhere, America, a visual choice that does little to add spice and specificity to the narrative and may have the unintended consequence of alienating urban, ethnic children with similar struggles. On the whole, though, as comforting as a book about the death of a sibling can be. (Picture book. 5-9)