cover image My Brother, Ant

My Brother, Ant

Betsy Cromer Byars. Viking Children's Books, $13.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-670-86664-9

It may not earn Byars (Summer of the Swans) another Newbery Medal or Simont (A Tree Is Nice) another Caldecott, but this volume is tailor-made for kids just beginning to read on their own. For starters, they will immediately take to the admirably tolerant narrator, whose feisty younger brother, Ant (short for Anthony), would test any sibling's patience. In these snippets, the older boy chases a monster from under Ant's bed; copes with an indecipherable picture that someone (guess who?) has drawn on his homework paper; reads Ant a fairy tale; and plays scribe when Ant dictates a letter to Santa . . . in July. Told with brevity, in simply constructed sentences and controlled vocabulary, these four vignettes are full of homespun warmth and easy-going humor. Echoing the good-natured narrative, Simont's straightforward pictures do a commendable job of helping to relay the plots-a big plus in fiction for this audience. Ages 6-9. (Mar.)