A naughty child annoys his parents and older brother in a series of vignettes in this debut picture book.
Gabe has a dream life. He’s an only child, the center of his parents’ world: “Mom and Dad loved me and me alone.” Then Gabe’s little brother, Henry, arrives. At age 4, Gabe struggles with this new addition to the family. When Gabe reaches 5, things get even worse, as 1-year-old Henry turns life into a battle of wills. Dunlavey’s comical illustrations show a child in the midst of a terrifying toddlerhood, running naked through the house with a flying stream of toilet paper behind him, and leaving a sippy cup spilled on the floor alongside broken crayons and lamps. Meanwhile, a onesie with the message “Mommy’s little angel” hangs from a chandelier. Gabe laments that everyone, from waitresses to grocery store customers, hates his family. By 2, Henry hasn’t gotten any better, and spends an entire appointment at the doctor’s office trying to throw a kid’s chair through the office fish tank. He poops in the public pool and throws his sippy cup under the car’s brake. Despite these abysmal incidents, Gabe slowly begins to take Henry’s side. When the day care provider hands their mother yet another incident report, Gabe explains, “It wasn’t always Henry’s fault.” And at the horrible checkup, Gabe thinks, “Poor Henry. I don’t always like the doctor visits either.” While there’s no discernible reason for Gabe to sympathize with his brother in Giese’s tale, the boy’s wry voice and his growing love for such a troublesome sibling has a sweet, encouraging feel to it—even if the narrator does sleep with one eye open. Though most of Dunlavey’s illustrations, which realistically depict a Caucasian family in colored pencil with textured shading, show expressions of exasperation on the faces of everyone but Henry, some scenes reinforce the affection family members clearly feel for their young tyrant. For sheer giggles at Henry’s antics, this book should delight young readers, despite the lack of plot or character development.
A humorous depiction of life with a terrible toddler, always underscored by his family’s love.