GRAPHIC NOVELS

A Tale as Tall as Jacob: Misadventures with My Brother

Andrews McMeel. Oct. 2021. 208p. pap. $11.99. ISBN 9781524865047.
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Gr 3-6–The arrival of Samantha’s little brother, Jacob, is a happy event, but as he grows, the once tranquil boy becomes increasingly destructive and has difficulty speaking. (His dialogue is rendered phonetically, with translation notes beneath panels; Samantha can understand what he says, though her parents can’t always.) Jacob’s parents take him to a children’s hospital, where they learn that he needs surgery on his tongue and that he is exhibiting signs of either attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or autism spectrum disorder. This knowledge makes Jacob’s words and actions easier to understand, but his issues require no less patience to correct and endure. Young Samantha is asked to exercise great maturity to help Jacob, even as the “tiny tornado” destroys toys and hurts pets and family. Eventually, a prescription of medication for ADHD changes his behavior. Readers will turn pages anticipating what havoc Jacob will wreak next, though he also has sweet and joyful sides. This story, based on Edwards’s experiences growing up, is commendable for its refusal to see Jacob through rose-colored glasses and its incorporation of Jacob’s perspective—in an afterword, Edwards includes a note from the real Jacob reflecting on the importance of love and understanding in his early development. Jacob’s struggles at school and his loneliness whenever Samantha seeks privacy add layers to their relationship. Layouts are smooth and colorful, often depicting gentle, domestic settings. Samantha, Jacob, and their parents are white.
VERDICT This deeply empathetic, tender look at raising and loving a child with ADHD will resonate with readers, especially those whose siblings have a similar diagnosis.

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