cover image Once Upon a Baby Brother

Once Upon a Baby Brother

Sarah Sullivan, illus. by Tricia Tusa, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-374-34635-5

“From the day she could talk, Lizzie loved to tell stories,” writes Sullivan (Dear Baby: Letters from Your Big Brother)—no mean storyteller herself—as Tusa (The Sandwich Swap), in the first of many slyly funny watercolors, shows the heroine, then a toddler, standing on a stack of books in her crib and acting out a narrative with toys for her rapt dog. The arrival of a little brother, Marvin, threatens to induce writer’s block, but thanks to an inspirational second-grade teacher, an assignment to write a comic book, and Marvin’s fortunately timed trip to Gramma’s, Lizzie discovers that a new sibling can actually be a girl’s best muse. Sullivan and Tusa seem to know in their bones that writing can be so all-consuming that lunchtime and recess pale by comparison. Bits of stories are interspersed (“After slaying dragons in the forest, the princess gave a surprise birthday party for the king”), underlining Lizzie’s inherent creativity, and even when Lizzie sits at her desk with her back turned to the audience, readers will know they’re witnessing a girl who’s utterly in the zone. Ages 5–8. (June)