Review: Another Brother by Matthew Cordell

another brother

Another Brother by Matthew Cordell

Davy was an only child for four years.  His parents paid close attention to everything he did and loved it all.  It all changed when Davy got a little brother, Petey.  Petey distracted Davy’s parents from everything he did!  And if Petey wasn’t bad enough, more little siblings started to arrive until Davy had 12 brothers!  All of them copied whatever Davy did.  They played with the same toys, had the same things for breakfast, walked like he did, and even ran after him when he tried to escape.  It drove Davy crazy.  But what would happen when those same little brothers decided not to copy Davy anymore?  It just might be worse!

Cordell’s zany book has an awesome sense of humor.  The book takes having a little brother to an extreme with an entire flock of brothers messing up Davy’s life.  Children with younger siblings will immediately recognize the truth of the story behind all of the humor.  Add in the references to vomiting, potty and burping and you have a picture book that is sure to be a hit when read aloud. 

Cordell’s illustrations are fine-lined and detailed.  They will work best with small groups or one-on-one since much of the humor is visual.  The rainbow-dotted sheep, the small details of their lives, and the touches like the balloon in front of the moon towards the end of the book all add up to a book that is designed to be adored and read again and again.

An outstanding pick for children dealing not with new infants but with the annoying little brother that follows them everywhere, though the humor alone will give it universal appeal.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Feiwel & Friends.

Review: I Lay My Stitches Down by Cynthia Grady

i lay my stitches down

I Lay My Stitches Down: Poems of American Slavery by Cynthia Grady, illustrated by Michele Wood

This collection of poems tell the story of slavery in America from the points of view of many different slaves.  There is the poem of the house slave who breaks some dishes, the story of the Underground Railroad, children being sold away from their parents, whipping, and much more.  Still, Grady manages to also weave into the stories softer moments of learning, art, and music.  They all focus around slavery and its ugliness, despite the beauty that the slaves create.  The message is the same in the illustrations, a wrenching mix of brutality and beauty that speaks directly to the difficult subject matter.

Grady’s poems are built with references in each poem to spiritual, music and quilting.  The poems are brief and powerful, filled with language that soars and lifts despite the horror of the subjects.  This dance of harshness and loveliness makes the poems particularly compelling.  Following each poem is a paragraph or two of explanation about that aspect of slavery or references made in the poem.

The illustrations are done in paint, but directly reference quilts.  Quilt patterns form the ground, walls, water and sky.  The people are woven into the quilts, surrounded by the art form.  It conveys a certain beauty as well as a sheltering feeling that would be missed if the illustrations had a bareness or minimalist nature.

Brutal, beautiful and educational, this book uses poetry to create a memorable book about slavery in America.  Appropriate for ages 9-12.

Reviewed from copy received from Eerdmans Books for Young Readers.