Wednesday, April 26, 2017

We Are Brothers, We Are Friends

Becoming a big brother or big sister can be a monumental rite of passage in a child’s life. Many children’s books on the topic of gaining a new sibling tend to follow a somewhat predictable order:

· The older child is the light of his or her parents’ lives, until the new baby arrives.
· The older child becomes jealous, and, while trying hard to be excited about the new addition to the family, has a difficult time understanding what appears to be a betrayal.
· The older child makes plans for removing the competition.
· Eventually a situation arises in which the older child recognizes that there is a role in the new baby’s life that can only be filled by him or her, and an amicable relationship is born.

It’s very easy to empathize with a toddler or preschooler who suddenly finds herself competing for the family’s attention with a newborn in the house. I don’t think there’s necessarily a magical solution for the jealousy that often very naturally arises under the circumstances, but I find it encouraging that this author has chosen to represent the situation in another fashion.

We Are Brothers, We Are Friends by Alexandra Penfold is a refreshingly different sort of book, in that the older boy portrayed is very excited from start to finish about the arrival of his baby brother. He speaks calmly and lovingly to his new sibling, outlining his hopes and dreams for all of the things he can show the baby and the life experiences they will share together, like playing hide-and-seek and learning how to be a dinosaur. "We will have adventures, just the two of us," he says, and later adds, "When you cry, I will hear you first. Don’t worry, baby. I will help!" The well-matched, energetic illustrations by Eda Kaban are evocative of 1960s animation or advertising art, with a colorful palette and simple retro-style toys and furnishings in evidence.

It may seem unrealistic that all children would behave in such a way, but we can always hold out hope that the transitions required in our households when we add a sibling might go as smoothly as this. We Are Brothers, We Are Friends is a sweet book, a nice addition to the list that covers new babies, and a lovely example of an older brother who is willing to "share my best toys, and my mama and my dada, too."

Guest post by Bridget W. 

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