K-Gr 3-In this quietly compelling story, a boy idolizes his older sibling and tries to imitate him in everything, from learning basketball to helping to fix his old car to giving their mama compliments. Because college costs too much, the big brother joins the army, resulting in feelings of pain and loss for the family members left behind. However, the narrator carries on, helping his younger brother shoot baskets, complimenting Mama on Sundays, and trying to fill the huge void left by his eldest sibling's absence. The spare, heartfelt text is eloquent in expressing the characters' feelings of pride and sadness. The soft, watercolor illustrations complement the narrative perfectly as the members of this African-American family try to continue with their routines, cope with the absence of a loved one, and hold on to one another until he returns. The last page, showing the sad boy leaning on his brother's car with the text, "I miss him," is powerful in its understatement. This book addresses a universal theme and will have meaning for many families struggling to fill voids of their own.-Jane Marino, Bronxville Public Library, NY Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
A little boy has a special, warm and loving relationship with his big brother. Together they have small rituals that encourage, teach, and inspire him. When his brother decides to join the army as a means to further his education, the family is both proud and apprehensive. Now the little boy must be big brother to a younger sibling, and he carefully follows in the footsteps of his idol. The whole family misses their beloved brother and son, but none so much as the boy who keeps his big brother's car shiny for him. Cohen's simple, direct language captures all the love and longing in the hearts of this family. Himler's quiet, softly drawn illustrations create visual images to perfectly match and enhance the text. Yes it's all very sentimental, but it portrays the emotions felt by so many families when faced with separation. A little gem. (Picture book. 6-10)