Review of My Life Begins!

My Life Begins! My Life Begins!
by Patricia MacLachlan ; illus. by Daniel Miyares
Primary     Tegen/HarperCollins    128 pp.         g
8/22     978-0-06-311601-6     $16.99
e-book ed.  978-0-06-311602-3    $10.99

This quiet chapter book is pure MacLachlan: lots of warmth and family love; a sensitive protagonist adapting to change; and spare, evocative prose that cuts to the heart of matters. Nine-year-old Jacob would rather have a puppy, but he has to make do with ­newborn triplets. His first impression of his sisters isn’t positive, as he records in his notebook: “They’re not pretty. They look like birds without feathers. ­Puppies are cuter.” When he needs a topic to research for a school assignment, “A Litter of Trips—from Birth On” is the obvious choice. In the beginning, the three babies seem the same (“They cry and eat, wet their diapers, and sleep”), but over time Jacob becomes aware of individual differences. As the “Trips” change, Jacob realizes that he’s changing, too, and growing into his role as an older brother. His perceptive, sometimes funny notebook musings are interspersed throughout the story and set apart from the main narrative, giving independent readers a chance to pause. Miyares’s lighthearted black-and-white illustrations, which match the text’s gentle tone, serve the same purpose. MacLachlan keeps the first-person narrative tightly focused on Jacob and his life at home with the babies (with a few scenes in school and at the doctor’s office); well-realized secondary characters add depth to the narrative.

From the September/October 2022 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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