Review of The Hospital Book

The Hospital Book The Hospital Book
by Lisa Brown; illus. by the author
Primary    Porter/Holiday    40 pp.
3/23    9780823446650    $18.99
e-book ed.  9780823455102    $11.99

“When I went to the hospital, I cried nine times.” Brown returns to the family featured in her ingenious The Airport Book (rev. 5/16); here, the now-older little sister narrates. The book follows the girl’s experiences as she heads to the hospital with severe stomach pain, is diagnosed with appendicitis, undergoes an operation, and recovers. As in the earlier book, multiple subplots unfold in Brown’s engrossing and detailed signature ink and watercolor illustrations; and we are treated to several amusing cameo appearances (paging Florence Nightingale and Dr. Watson!) and the return of some memorable Airport Book characters. But Brown smartly keeps a tight focus on the girl and her very relatable reactions and emotions, using as a through line the times she cries (e.g., when a doctor presses on her abdomen, getting an IV put in) versus the times she doesn’t (­getting an ultrasound, when she throws up her post-op Popsicle, etc.). Throughout, we meet a host of hospital workers—doctors, nurses, orderlies, cleaners—each one exuding a sense of caring and reassurance. Naturally and­ ­matter-of-factly, Brown incorporates a remarkable wealth of diversity—all kinds, from skin tones to abilities to genders to cultures to types of families. Instructive, engaging, empathetic, inclusive—Brown once again delivers an essential book about a common childhood experience.

From the March/April 2023 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Martha V. Parravano
Martha V. Parravano
Martha V. Parravano is book review editor of The Horn Book, Inc., and co-author of the Calling Caldecott blog.

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