ROUNDUP: Becoming a Big Brother or Sister
reviewed by Kay Marner
My son, Aaron, was an only child for six blissful years
before welcoming a two-year-old sister from Russia. Now he's
nine, and an expert big brother. The hardest part of
becoming a sibling, he says, is sharing your stuff. The
coolest part is having someone to "overrule." Four new
picture books corroborate my expert's findings, and make
another important point: Becoming a sibling is not just
about the hard stuff or the cool stuff. It's about the stuff
you learn along the way.
My Mei Mei
written and illustrated by Ed Young
>>> Ed Young's new book, My Mei Mei, is a gift: It
tells his own family's story, wrapped in some of the most
beautiful artwork ever to grace a children's book. His
daughter, Antonia, can only pretend to be a Jieh-
Jieh, a big sister, until she travels with her parents
to China to bring home a Mei Mei, a little sister. At
first, being Rachel's big sister isn't as wonderful as
Antonia imagined, but she grows into the role. This is a
lovely book for any sisters, and a must-read for sisters
brought together through adoption from China.
Just Add One Chinese Sister: An Adoption
by Patricia McMahon and Conor Clarke McCarthy, illustrated
by Karen A. Jerome
Boyds Mills Press; $16.95
>>> "Finally," I tell my daughter, Natalie, "the mamas
brought you into the big room where Daddy and I were
waiting, and you said…."
"Mama. Papa." she says on cue.
"And we loved you right away."
If, like me, you enjoy snuggling up with your daughter
and re-telling her adoption story, you'll love Just Add
One Chinese Sister. In this book, a mom recounts her
daughter's adoption story as they create her lifebook.
"That first night," I tell my son, Aaron, "you saw
Natalie rocking in her bed and asked me what she was doing.
I told you she'd never had a mommy or daddy to rock her to
sleep, so she learned to rock herself. And you said, ‘If
everyone saw her rock, then everyone would be sad.' And I
knew you were going to be an awesome big brother."
And, if, like me, you enjoy snuggling up with your son
and re-telling the story of how he became a big brother,
you'll love Conor Clarke McCarthy's insightful journal
entries that accompany the main text.
What the No-Good Baby Is Good
Elise Broach, illustrated by Abby Carter
>>> In this story, a new brother decides, "after weeks and
weeks, and months and months, and more than half a year,"
that it's time for that no-good baby to go. His mom helps
him pack up the baby's stuff and gets ready to send her
off—for one whole day at Grandma's house. Then, Mom and son
have a whole day of "just us." This story is a lighthearted
acknowledgement that our older children need time and
attention more than ever after a new sibling comes
Barfburger Baby, I Was Here
by Paula Danziger, illustrated by G. Brian Karas
>>> When Aaron finished this book, the smile on his face
made him look like he'd gotten away with something. "I think
one kid, ME, was just right," says Jonathan, the narrator.
He's angry with his parents, his Grandma and Poppop, his
cousins—the world. He expresses his disgust with lots of
"Grrrr"-ing and nearly-naughty name-calling. It's not until
he joins the Big Brother Club that he sees the positive
side. Danziger gives kids permission to "Grrr," then,
keeping her toe right on the line between naughty and nice,
she leaves them smiling.
KAY MARNER is a mother by birth and adoption. She
works for the public library in Ames, Iowa.
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