#BookReview: The Other Brother, Penny Jaye (author), Heidi Cooper Smith (illus.), Wombat Books, February 2020.
Jayden James thought his family of five was perfect – until last Wednesday when Mitchell David arrived. Now the car’s too small, picnics are ruined and no one’s paying attention to Jayden anymore.
Jayden knows something needs to be done. And he’s the only one who can do it!
A gentle story about acceptance, belonging and what it means to be family.
I grew up in a family of five, and it was (almost) perfect. Being the youngest with two older brothers meant often wishing for a sister to play with and talk to about ‘girly-type’ things. Then one day when I was twelve, our parents decided to adopt – and I got the sister, well, a sister of the furry kind, to play with and talk to. ‘Almost’ the same, right!
For Jayden James in Penny Jaye’s heartwarming story, adjusting to a new kind of family dynamic is hard. Things were perfect before. The FIVE of them fit neatly and tidily into their family-of-five package; the perfect fit for the car, for the picnic rug, and especially the couch! All cosy and sweet with blankies and cuddles. Cue Mitchell David – the cute curly-haired boy with a knack of stealing the attention and dividing the family. Jayden is unsettled. Jayden is unhappy. But Jayden has a big heart, and comes to realise that there is now a need to make more room in his life (and on the couch!) for another. A family of SIX is perfect, too!
Penny Jaye tells this story of adoption, belonging and acceptance in fun, spirited language that also sparks an insight into the internal thought and emotion process for both young Jayden and Mitchell David. Heidi Cooper Smith’s beautifully soft watercolour-look exemplifies the warmth and support of the family dynamic with telling facial expressions and body language of each characters’ emotional journey. The last scene of the entire family of six on the couch is just delightful, touching and exudes enough radiance to put a smile on your face.
The Other Brother is joyous and refreshing, highlighting strength and love in times of change and adjustment. This story enables readers to put themselves in the shoes of ‘the other’, cleverly integrating two perceptions in an unfamiliar situation. Recommending this book to all families, with children from age four and beyond.
Review by Romi Sharp.