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Fox (The Eagle Kite, 1995, etc.) offers acute psychological insight into a boy's feelings of anger and rejection, fears about what his classmates will think, and his loss of ""normal"" family life when his brother, who has Down syndrome, is born. From the opening pages, readers gain a strong, worrying sense of how Paul feels about his younger brother, without being shown (until much later) just what it is about Jacob's looks and behavior that so upsets him. Only his grandfather seems to understand, writing Paul special letters, taking him on outings, and making gentle attempts to persuade Paul to accept Jacob. The only peace Paul finds is in a nearby woods; it is there he runs to escape Jacob's birthday party, and it's there Grandpa finds him in the book's epiphany. It's also where the story's hold begins to abate, as Fox brings it to a rapid close without the intensely articulated examination of feelings that has filled the preceding pages. Other than Grandpa's admission that Jacob is ""an eerie child at times,"" there's no explanation of what it is that changes in Paul, making him want to build a relationship with his brother. But if only for the authentic delineation of a loving family's coping with one member's special needs, this is a worthwhile, poignant story.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1997
Page count: 101pp
Publisher: DK Ink