Subscribe to The Horn Book

Sassy siblings

There’s nothing like a sibling when it comes to trouble-making, attention-seeking, and one-upping. Also: support, companionship, and giggle-sharing. These four new picture books feature brothers and sisters doing what siblings do best.

dipucchio_gastonThe star of Kelly DiPucchio’s Gaston looms over his poodle sisters Fi-Fi, Foo-Foo, and Ooh-La-La. At the park, they meet a family like theirs but in reverse: bulldogs Rocky, Ricky, and Bruno and their petite sister Antoinette. Were Gaston and Antoinette switched at birth? Should they trade families? It seems like the right thing to do until they try it, only to discover that what looks right doesn’t always feel right. Christian Robinson’s expressive paintings elegantly illustrate this different-types-of-families story. (Atheneum, 3–6 years)

castillo_troublemakerWhile his parents tend garden and his sister plays tea party, the young narrator of The Troublemaker is bored. Seizing his wooden pirate’s sword, he kidnaps his sister’s stuffed rabbit, lashes it to his toy boat, and sets the boat free on the lake. Later on, when the bunny disappears — again! — everyone understandably suspects the narrator. With author/illustrator Lauren Castillo’s boldly rendered pictures, the book is at once handsome and child friendly — a good conversation starter for preschoolers. (Clarion, 3–6 years)

schwartz_splat starring the vole brothersOut for a walk, two vole brothers look up to see a pigeon flying overhead: “Ooooooo…” But then — “SPLAT!” The clueless pigeon lets loose, dropping a bird-poo bomb on one brother’s head (pause here for preschool laughter). Splat!: Starring the Vole Brothers by Roslyn Schwartz (creator of the Mole Sisters stories) plays out primarily in the spare ink and pencil-crayon illustrations, especially in Schwartz’s expressive characters. A few sound effects (flap flap; splat) and minimal dialogue (“Err…”; “Hee hee hee”) advance the bare-bones story, but pre-readers should be able to follow the slapstick action easily on their own. (Owlkids, 3–6 years)

kornell_me firstDonkeys Martha and Hal, from Me First by Max Kornell, are ultracompetitive siblings. After a family picnic — during which they find “exciting ways to try to outdo each other” — they get permission to go home a different way. One misadventure after another on the walk back helps the siblings grow to appreciate each other and realize that a little cooperation goes a long way. Kornell’s acrylic ink drawings burst with color in this sibling rivalry story minus any heavy-handedness. (Penguin/Paulsen, 4–7 years)

From the May 2014 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

Elissa Gershowitz About Elissa Gershowitz

Elissa Gershowitz is executive editor of The Horn Book, Inc. She holds an MA from the Center for the Study of Children's Literature at Simmons College and a BA from Oberlin College.

Comment Policy:
  1. Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  2. Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  3. Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through (though some comments with links to multiple URLs are held for spam-check moderation by the system). If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.

We accept clean XHTML in comments, but don't overdo it and please limit the number of links submitted in your comment. For more info, see the full Terms of Use.

Speak Your Mind