Monday 23 March 2020

The Other Brother

The Other Brother by Penny Jaye, Heidi Cooper Smith (Wombat Books)
RRP $24.99 Hardcover ISBN

Reviewed by Karen Hendriks

This is a tender story that explores family, siblings and change from a child’s perspective. The voice of Jayden James reminds me of Wilfred Gordon MacDonald Partridge in some parts. I love how the text links and loops back with the family’s activities. What a family of five did they do as a family of six. A new brother does not impress Jayden James. There’s a new car, not enough room on the picnic rug and Mitchell David chases all the birds away. Then, the story gives us a peep into how Mitchell David is feeling in his new family. Jayden James steps into his new role of big brother and with a wiggle and a squish he makes space on the couch for Mitchell David. And now six fit. The text is rich in language that is warm and emotive. For example, One, two three, four, five and six – with blankets and cuddles, all squishy but sweet.

The heart-warming illustrations depict the movement and flow of family life. The facial expressions are emotive and expressive. The use of space on the pages show the family members together or apart depending upon the message. My favourite spread is the double page where Jayden James is underneath his doona. You just want to give him a big hug. The end papers are adorable with the family blankets and pillows scattered and scrunched after snuggling. Heidi has cleverly used white space to draw the eye straight to the family and their interaction which is the core of the story.

This is a story that will be enjoyed by children 3-8 years from all sorts of families. It is a book that helps with understanding about adoption or fostering. This book will be read by both families and schools. The Other Brother ties in well with the school curriculum and teachers will find this a very handy resource when students are learning about what it means to be a family.

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