Oh, Brother!

Overview

It's bad enough that Xavier's new stepbrother, Chris, has moved into Xavier's room, but now it looks like he's also trying to steal Mami by being the perfect kid.

Chris's "Mr. Perfect" act may fool grown-ups, but Xavier can see straight through it.

He promises himself that he'll never become real brothers with such a fake.

No brothers ...

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Overview

It's bad enough that Xavier's new stepbrother, Chris, has moved into Xavier's room, but now it looks like he's also trying to steal Mami by being the perfect kid.

Chris's "Mr. Perfect" act may fool grown-ups, but Xavier can see straight through it.

He promises himself that he'll never become real brothers with such a fake.

No brothers allowed!

Ever!

. . . right?

In twenty powerful poems, two strangers learn to become brothers. Nikki Grimes captures the struggles—and eventual sweetness—of bringing together a family.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Snappy language and varied rhyme schemes energize Grimes's (Talkin' About Bessie) verses describing step-sibling rivalry in a newly blended, interracial family. After his mom's wedding, Xavier bemoans his circumstances: "Everyone in this house/ is a step, now./ Stepmom./ Stepdad... / In my mind,/ I turn them into steps/ I can climb./ And when I reach/ the top,/ I rule." Benny (America's White Table) intersperses surreal illustrations with more realistic scenes; those that vivify Xavier's imaginary life are more compelling (instead of showing steps, he displays the rest of the family as figures at Mount Rushmore, with the life-size narrator scaling the representation of his stepfather). Throughout, the illustrator favors outsize characters with enormous eyes and mouths, exaggerating Xavier's shifting emotions (and taking advantage of the book's large trim size). The stylized characters also complement the humor and the deft poetic shifts as Grimes traces Xavier's tumultuous route to friendship with his new stepbrother, Chris ("I'm sick of Mr. Perfect!/ Just be a normal kid!" he explodes, only to be moved by Chris's response: " 'Unless I'm perfect,' whispers Chris,/ 'my dad might go away./ Normal wasn't good enough/ to make my mama stay' "). Although the story arc is predictable (guess who has a baby?), the art and poems capture and memorably convey a range of emotions. Ages 5-10. (Jan.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Children's Literature - Kathleen Karr
Xavier is having a little trouble accepting his new stepbrother Chris, not to mention his stepfather. Will he turn into a mouse and be stepped on? Why is Chris so good all the time? When Chris makes Mami laugh, does she love Xavier less? Why is Chris allowed to call his Mami, Mom? Step-by-step, Nikki Grimes casts her little poems into the story of Xavier's ultimate acceptance of his new multicultural family. The winner of multiple Coretta Scott King Awards, Grimes spins her verse with a light, knowing touch (for example, Mami grinning is "licking us like scoops of ice cream with her eyes") to the happy ending. Mike Benny's colorful gouache illustrations naturalistically complement the story—and occasionally go beyond it, as in his double-page pillow fight interpretation of "Lights Out." This is a well done niche book for the growing market of re-formed families attempting to survive the inevitable jealousies and insecurities of the children caught in the middle. Reviewer: Kathleen Karr
School Library Journal

K-Gr 5- In this collection of poems, Grimes takes on the complicated challenges that blended families face. Xavier, a Latino boy who has lived alone with his mother for some time, voices his concerns as a new man and his son come into their lives. The new brother, an African American, is a competitor and is perfect to boot. Xavier resists liking the younger boy and actively resents his attempts at gaining his mother's affections. It isn't until later when Xavier confronts him that Chris admits that he fears that being less than perfect might make his father abandon him as his mother did. This admission softens Xavier as he realizes that Chris is as insecure as he is. The story arc is somewhat predictable and the plot neatly tied up at the end. Still, this is an important topic and the blending of a Latino and an African-American family is refreshing. Benny's artwork is bold and literal, which supports the metaphors used in the poetry.-Joan Kindig, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA

Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780688172947
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 1/1/2008
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.00 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 0.25 (d)

Meet the Author

Nikki Grimes began penning poetry at the age of six. Her many award-winning titles include the picture books Talkin' About Bessie: The Story of Aviator Elizabeth Coleman, which won the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award and a Coretta Scott King Author Honor, and Meet Danitra Brown, which won a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor. Coretta Scott King Author Honors went to her novels The Road to Paris, Jazmin's Notebook, and Dark Sons, and her novel Bronx Masquerade won the Coretta Scott King Author Award. She lives in Corona, California.

Mike Benny is the recipient of two Gold Medals from the Society of Illustrators. His first children's book was America's White Table, by Margot Raven Theis. His illustrations have also appeared in well-known publications such as Time, GQ, The New Yorker, and Sports Illustrated. He lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife, daughter, and son.

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