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Saturday, January 1, 2011

Book of Big Brothers, written by Cory Fagan and illustrated by Luc Melanson. Groundwood, 2010. $18.95 ages 4 and up

"For his birthday, my middle brother got a
plastic model kit of a monster called
The Creature from the Black Lagoon.
It was scary. At night I imagined the
Creature crawling down from the dresser,
sneaking into my room and climbing up
the leg of my bed. So I hired my big brother.
I gave him one dollar. He took the Creature
into the garage and smashed it with a hammer."

I don't think you have to be a big brother, or have big brothers to find great joy in this well-told story. Our narrator is the youngest of three; and, as such, has memorable stories to tell of growing up with two older brothers. I am sure he is not as innocent as he makes himself out to be. On the other hand, I am quite sure that the many anecdotes he shares have an element of truth...for all younger siblings. It is so easy to blame the other(s)! I do have a question about brothers: is it surprising to anyone who has one that 'brother' resembles so clearly the word 'bother'?

As the young one in the family, our narrator has all the dreams that every young boy has...superhero rescues, rock star status. No matter what trouble he finds himself in, he can count on his brothers for help. Of course, it is not always that way (as is hinted at in the quote that begins this post). There are troubles and consequences, often shared equally whether justified or not.

Filled with never ending action, told with humor and in a conversational tone this story gives the reader an up close and personal look at life with brothers. Plans made and waylaid, family stories to share forever, hopes and dreams for the future are all integral to this funny and revealing peek at life in one family.

Luc Melanson perfectly matches the tone of the story and adds character and warmth to the memories shared. His colorful, expressive characters respond perfectly to each new situation and leave the audience giggling in anticipation of what is to happen next.

I will leave the final words to our host:

"My brothers and I are getting older. Sometimes we
get along and sometimes we don't. But there are still
a lot of things we want to do together.
Like build a raft.
And dig a tunnel from our house to the candy store.
And climb the Rocky Mountains.
After all, they're only two thousand miles away."

It leaves each of us making plans for the future....and seems perfect for this first day of the New Year!

Happy New Year to you!

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