I'M A BIG BROTHER NOW

There’s plenty of room on the new-baby shelf for this sturdy big brother

A little black boy revels in filling “one of the most important roles in the family”—big brother.

The little boy, who looks to be about 4 or 5, tells readers how he helped Mommy and Daddy before the baby arrived, how he waited with Grandma while his parents were at the hospital, and how he adapts to the new family member. Hudson lays out a best-case scenario for her narrator and his family: he helps with apparently unflagging cheer. He proudly shares that he “knew how to dial 911 and call Daddy if the baby came early,” a detail absent from most baby-on-the-way books that’s presented matter-of-factly and without alarmism. Although the narrator is very close to a big-brother ideal, he does express disgust with “stinky diapers,” frustration with “people telling me to SHHHH because the baby is sleeping,” and disappointment when a parent can’t play because “I have to take care of the baby.” By the end of the book, the narrator understands more fully the role of big brother and is able knowledgeably to answer “Good” when “Daddy asks how my new job is going.” Walker’s airy watercolors evince on every page the love the members of this comfortably middle-class, all-black family feel for one another. Next to them, the bold, sans-serif typeface can look jarring, but it has the advantage of being easy to read for children transitioning into independence.

There’s plenty of room on the new-baby shelf for this sturdy big brother . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-1933491-21-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Marimba Books

Review Posted Online: March 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

HOME

Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions.

Ellis, known for her illustrations for Colin Meloy’s Wildwood series, here riffs on the concept of “home.”

Shifting among homes mundane and speculative, contemporary and not, Ellis begins and ends with views of her own home and a peek into her studio. She highlights palaces and mansions, but she also takes readers to animal homes and a certain famously folkloric shoe (whose iconic Old Woman manages a passel of multiethnic kids absorbed in daring games). One spread showcases “some folks” who “live on the road”; a band unloads its tour bus in front of a theater marquee. Ellis’ compelling ink and gouache paintings, in a palette of blue-grays, sepia and brick red, depict scenes ranging from mythical, underwater Atlantis to a distant moonscape. Another spread, depicting a garden and large building under connected, transparent domes, invites readers to wonder: “Who in the world lives here? / And why?” (Earth is seen as a distant blue marble.) Some of Ellis’ chosen depictions, oddly juxtaposed and stripped of any historical or cultural context due to the stylized design and spare text, become stereotypical. “Some homes are boats. / Some homes are wigwams.” A sailing ship’s crew seems poised to land near a trio of men clad in breechcloths—otherwise unidentified and unremarked upon.

Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6529-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

I WISH YOU MORE

Although the love comes shining through, the text often confuses in straining for patterned simplicity.

A collection of parental wishes for a child.

It starts out simply enough: two children run pell-mell across an open field, one holding a high-flying kite with the line “I wish you more ups than downs.” But on subsequent pages, some of the analogous concepts are confusing or ambiguous. The line “I wish you more tippy-toes than deep” accompanies a picture of a boy happily swimming in a pool. His feet are visible, but it's not clear whether he's floating in the deep end or standing in the shallow. Then there's a picture of a boy on a beach, his pockets bulging with driftwood and colorful shells, looking frustrated that his pockets won't hold the rest of his beachcombing treasures, which lie tantalizingly before him on the sand. The line reads: “I wish you more treasures than pockets.” Most children will feel the better wish would be that he had just the right amount of pockets for his treasures. Some of the wordplay, such as “more can than knot” and “more pause than fast-forward,” will tickle older readers with their accompanying, comical illustrations. The beautifully simple pictures are a sweet, kid- and parent-appealing blend of comic-strip style and fine art; the cast of children depicted is commendably multiethnic.

Although the love comes shining through, the text often confuses in straining for patterned simplicity. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4521-2699-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2015

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