Picture book of the day: the gentle new sibling book I’m a Big Brother Now

I’m a Big Brother Now, illustrated by Sylvia L. Walker, written by Katura J. Hudson, published by Marimba Books (distributed by Just Us Books), ISBN:  978-1603490146.

One of the questions I often get at the children’s reference desk is for “big brother” or “big sister” new sibling books.  And then the person asking for titles will say “please, let me rephrase it–can you find me positive, honest, and/or reassuring books that don’t make the new addition seem like a complete bother?”  Yes, as much as I love subversive picture books that have characters mailing their new baby sister or brother to another locale (and possibly even outer space), it’s refreshing to discover such a loving, seemingly simple, emotionally direct book like I’m a Big Brother Now.  Sylvia L. Walker’s warm watercolors introduce young readers to a charming boy who cannot wait to take on his exciting new role as big brother.  This helpful, resourceful little guy helps even before the baby is born:  talking to his mommy’s tummy, painting the baby’s room, and making sure his mother’s bag is by the door when she has to quickly leave for the hospital.  Katura J. Hudson’s succinct, child-friendly first person text walks the audience through what to expect when the baby first arrives (lots of sleeping and dirty diapers–but the protagonist’s patient smiles show it’s not completely horrible).  I love how Hudson calls the new addition “the baby,” resisting gender specification and thus increasing the title’s universality (so many times I’m told by patrons “oh, my child has a new baby sister so books with baby brothers won’t work” or vice versa).  Although the book is snark-free, it doesn’t feel sappy or cloying.  The boy endures some minor disappointments (like needing to be quiet around the sleeping tot and not being able to engage in loud play).  But when the child says that it’s all good at the end, you believe him thanks to the tender beauty of Walker’s art and Hudson’s prose.  A beautiful little gem of a book, unassuming and universal.

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