cover image Sister, Brother, Family: An American Childhood in Music

Sister, Brother, Family: An American Childhood in Music

Willie and Bobbie Nelson, cowritten by Chris Barton, illus. by Kyung Eun Han. Do

Told in alternating perspectives from Bobbie and Willie Nelson, who refer to each other as Sister and Brother, this sentimental picture book debut, cowritten by Barton, chronicles the musical siblings’ lives. Raised by their grandparents, Mama and Daddy Nelson, in “little Abbott, Texas,” Bobbie falls in love with the piano (“The piano felt like a friend”), and Willie has a knack for the guitar (“Six strings seemed just about right”). Together, they play music at church, to comfort themselves when Daddy Nelson dies suddenly, to support the family financially by playing in dance halls, and as they begin storied careers as performers. Prose occasionally hits a stale note (“We had so little money but so much love”), though largely maintains a fondly nostalgic tone. Kyung’s subtly textured, vintage stylized images, rendered in dusty hues and portraying a white cast, contribute to the book’s Southern charm. A personal-feeling family story that firmly reinforces the power of music as connective tissue in two country stars’ lives. Ages 3–7. (Nov.)