Yo, Bro! Hey, Sis! Sibling Picture Books | SLJ Spotlight

Five picture books explore the perilous and the positive when it comes to siblings.
Whether anxiously awaiting the arrival of a new baby or staking out one’s turf in the family hierarchy, the shifting dynamics between sisters and brothers are never dull, nor do they lack for drama. In the best scenarios, the adults let the siblings work out their differences and the kids usually come to realize that they have an ally and friend under the same roof.

Arnaldo, Monica. Little Brothers & Little Sisters. illus. by Monica Arnaldo. 32p. Owlkids. Apr. 2018. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781771472951.

PreS-Gr 2 –This book explores familial relationships from the point of view of younger siblings. The casual, informal tone mirrors the narrator’s childlike perception of the various happenings explored in the book’s illustrations. Waiting for a turn at the wheel, a chance to lead, and to join in the older sibling’s play are among the scenarios depicted. There is a notable shift in the background color midway through the book as the older child offers a helping hand, a shield of protection, and teaches and treats their sibling as “a partner in crime.” This transformation mimics the transition of day to night, and is also reflected in the narrative. VERDICT A charming and heartwarming look at the complex and diverse nature of relationships among family members.–Deanna Smith, Pender County Public Library, NC

Huser, Glen. The Snuggly. illus. by Milan Pavlovic. 32p. Groundwood. Apr. 2018. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781554989010.

PreS-Gr 1 –The birth of a new baby brings new emotions as well as new contraptions. On the day that Todd’s new sibling arrived home, Papa also brought a “snuggly” (better known as an infant carrier) to wear to help keep baby Ada close and safe. Papa teaches Todd how to use a snuggly with his teddy bear, Banjo Bear. One day, Papa is leaving for work and Mama is busy tending to Ada, and Todd decides that no one would mind if he takes the snuggly to school with Banjo Bear inside. During his short walk to school, Todd encounters numerous friends who ask what he’s wearing. Todd replies, “It’s a snuggly. It keeps things close and safe.” Upon hearing that, each friend gives Todd something to hold for them. More and more items are added to the snuggly until finally the it bursts—and so does Todd’s emotions. Luckily, his teacher fixes the straps and provides some emotional support for the new big brother. A vivid palette of watercolor artwork complements the text by directly reflecting the actions and emotions of the characters. VERDICT A charming tale and a solid addition for one-on-one and small group sharing.–Kristen Todd-Wurm, Middle Country Public Library, NY

redstarMallery, Sydra. A Most Unusual Day. illus. by E.B. Goodale. 40p. HarperCollins/Greenwillow. Apr. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062364302.

PreS-Gr 2 –A young girl named Caroline moves through her unusual day at school, preparing for the impending arrival of her new baby sister. Mallery’s simple text makes readers feel her preoccupation and discomfort. They are told that she is usually up early, organized, calm, and helpful, but on this day, “she forgot her socks. She forgot her lunch box. Her feet were sweaty and she had to eat school lunch.” There is no explicit mention of adoption, and even the existence of the new baby is not revealed until nearly the end of the book. Rather, the text and illustrations provide ample space for questions and further discovery through reading and rereading, including subtle textual and pictorial clues, such as the words “far, far, away,” and Caroline’s interest in airplanes. The focus of the story is Caroline’s experience, and the ways in which her perspective changes upon meeting the baby, who made “every usual thing, unusually new and perfectly right.” Because of this, the book could be read with any child expecting a new sibling, despite the baby’s depiction as older than a newborn. Caroline and her world are lovingly rendered by Goodale in ink and watercolors. The setting is modern, and the color palette fresh and light. The pages are full of detail and texture where it matters, clean lines, with secondary characters and objects sketched in gray and pastel silhouettes. VERDICT This adoption story fills an important need in most picture book collections while also representing the general experience of becoming an older sibling. A must purchase for any library serving families.–Clara Hendricks, Cambridge Public Library, MA

Parr, Todd. The Brother Book. ISBN 9780316265171.

––––. The Sister Book. ISBN 9780316265201.

ea vol: illus. by Todd Parr. 32p. (Brother Sister Bks). Little, Brown. Mar. 2018. Tr. $12.99. POP

PreS-K –These two like-minded titles add to the author’s previous books about families with simple sentences and minimalistic illustrations. The books contrast sisters or brothers with wildly colorful (and sometimes improbable) faces, bodies, or hair that present an assortment of siblings—each a “special part of your family.” Simplicity of illustrations reveals not only diversity of appearance and personality, but the variety of personalities and preferences within all families and among sisters or brothers, even those who do not live at home. Boldly lined, painted images of each book’s pages feature identifiable mirrorlike pages of the other book that repeat similar text and ideas, all presented in the author’s iconic child-friendly fonts. For example, “Some sisters (brothers) like to hang out with you. Some sisters (brothers) like to spend time alone.” Both titles encourage social and emotional discussions about self and place in the family, allowing the very young to visualize members of their own family. VERDICT These beginning books for listening and learning are recommended general purchase.–Mary Elam, Learning Media Services, Plano ISD, TX

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