Valerie Mendes, Author, Claire Fletcher, Illustrator , illus. by Claire Fletcher. Scholastic/Chicken House $15.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-439-29654-0

This curious book combines fantasy elements with a conventional story of a new sibling. While not so eagerly awaiting the arrival of a new baby, young Jamie learns from his grandmother that she once had an older brother named Callum, who died when he was 10. For the next three nights, Jamie dreams that the redheaded, green-eyed Callum visits him, guiding Jamie on his bicycle, swimming with him and riding bumper cars. Callum tells Jamie, "Hold on to me," as the two bob in Fletcher's (Wind Garden) swirling, striated sea of blues and greens. "Then [Callum] melts into the waves and Jamie begins to swim." Although the text never states that Jamie was afraid of these things, each time he tackles them by himself in the daylight, this refrain appears, "Suddenly he isn't frightened anymore." Convinced by his nightly adventures with Callum that big brothers have a lot to offer, Jamie joyfully welcomes home a new baby sister. Mendes's (Tomasina's First Dance) simple sentences and repetitive refrains create an incantatory power, but some children may be confused about Jamie's apparitions and the vague allusions to his fears. The relationship between Jamie and Callum is too sketchy to overcome these shortcomings in the text, despite illustrations that depict Jamie's connection to the dead boy and to his new sister. Ages 3-7. (Nov.)

Reviewed on: 11/12/2001
Release date: 01/01/2001
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