Always My Brother

Always My Brother

by Jean Reagan, Phyllis Pollema-Cahill

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Carrie Hane Hung
Becky shares her story about her best buddy, her older brother, John. The brother and sister duo enjoyed many, fun-filled times and moments whether it was playing soccer, caring for their dog, or walking with linked hand shadows. John was the one who could turn Becky's grouchy mood into laughter with his jokes. The close brother-sister moments were snatched quickly away when John suddenly died. Although the cause of John's death was not revealed, the focus is on the family's grieving and Becky's struggle to accept and begin to recover from the loss of her beloved brother. The empty spot at the dining table, the pizza with pineapple, and the photographs on the fireplace mantle were some of the reminders of the cherished moments shared with John. As Becky starts on the road of recovery, she discovers lasting impressions of John that are a part of her. The watercolor pictures provide a glimpse into Becky's grief and recovery. The story provides one perspective on a complex, emotional topic, the death of a child and how a family begins to heal. Reviewer: Carrie Hane Hung
School Library Journal
Gr 2–5—Becky narrates this story about her brother's death and its effects on her and her family. She and John were "best buddies," and when he dies, she is devastated and gives up many of the things she loved doing. Finally, as she begins to adjust to her life without him, she realizes that her brother would want her to be happy in spite of his absence. The story is poignant and touching, realistic and straightforward. This is a good book to recommend to families struggling with the death of a relative or friend. While the body proportions are not always exactly right in the realistic watercolors, the facial expressions are rendered with care and precision.—Wendy Smith-D'Arezzo, Loyola College, Baltimore, MD
Kirkus Reviews
"My brother John and I were best buddies," Becky tells readers. They played soccer and took care of their dog together. John always worked to josh Becky out of her bad moods. "But that was all before-before John died." Reagan, who writes from experience, having lost her own son, zeroes in on Becky's grieving process, leaving the specifics of the circumstances of John's death unmentioned and not even alluding to her parents' sadness. This will likely frustrate children who want a story, but it makes this book especially apt for use with children going through their own losses. Becky's very believable emergence from despair, complete with concomitant anxiety-"I forgot to miss John"-will serve as a model for grieving children. Pollema-Cahill's bland watercolors depict a blondly Caucasian family in suburban Anywhere, America, a visual choice that does little to add spice and specificity to the narrative and may have the unintended consequence of alienating urban, ethnic children with similar struggles. On the whole, though, as comforting as a book about the death of a sibling can be. (Picture book. 5-9)

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Product Details

Tilbury House Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
9.20(w) x 10.30(h) x 0.40(d)
AD570L (what's this?)
Age Range:
6 - 9 Years

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