Book of Big Brothers

Cary Fagan, Author, Luc Melanson, Illustrator
Cary Fagan, illus. by Luc Melanson, Groundwood (PGW, dist.), $18.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-88899-977-1
Reviewed on: 09/06/2010
Release date: 08/01/2010
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Reading this book is a lot like listening to a friend and his brothers swap favorite family stories. Individually, the stories may be compelling for their voyeuristic value (what really goes on in the living rooms and backyards of neighbors and friends?), everyday squabbles (the two older brothers find gold flakes—actually pyrite—on the playground, then try to cut their younger sibling out of the action), or shock value (like nearly burning down the neighborhood with fireworks). But after a while, someone else's nostalgia can be a little numbing—and the problem is compounded by Fagan's (My New Shirt) narrative voice, which alternately feels too knowing and too naïve ("My brothers and I are getting older. Sometimes we get along and sometimes we don't"). Whether the boys are holding a makeshift funeral for a pet lizard gone too soon or building a Lego robot while their parents nervously explain the birds and the bees, the naïf styling and scruffy characterizations of Melanson's (Topsy-Turvy Town) digital illustrations explain why brothers can be so endearing and such doofuses. Ages 4–7. (Sept.)
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