Irene's Picture Book Reviews


Posted on: July 26, 2010

           Always My Brother
           By Jean Reagan
           Illustrated by Phyllis Pollema-Cahill
           Gardiner, Maine: Tibury House, 2009
           Reagan’s book is about how a sibling can cope with
           death. Kids tend to have a very difficult time coping
           with death, and this is especially the case if the death
           occurs within the family.
           The book is about Becky and her brother John. They
           are best buddies all their lives, telling jokes, caring for
           their dog Toby, and playing soccoer. John was always
           there to cheer her up and to help her out. Then one day,
           the inconceivable happened. He died suddenly. Becky
           so wishes that everything would go back to normal. But
           it can’t because she feels such a void in her life after the
           death of her brother.
           She has a difficult time resuming her normal
           activities, and when she finds herself feeling guilty
           about enjoying herself at a friend’s birthday party, her
           Mom tries to soothe her. But it takes time for Becky to
           come around and allow herself to have fun. Gradually,
           she discovers that her brother would want her to have
           fun and to laugh, even when he’s gone.
           This is such a heartwarming story. The ending is a bit
           sad.  But it is also pensive and reflective, leaving an
           important message for kids: a sibling can go on after the
           death of a family member, despite the fact that it’s so
           hard at the beginning. It may even make one stronger
           as a result.
              How Teachers can use this book?
           1. Divide the class into smaller groups of say three to
           five kids. Have them discuss death and whether they
           were touched by it. How did they cope with the loss of
           a family member or friend?
           2.  Ask the class to brainstorm ten ways that siblings
           and close friends can overcome the hurt of losing
           someone very close to them? 
           3.  Would they feel guilty to have fun after the death
           of a close family member? If yes, why? If no, why not?
           4.  Can one learn anything from the death of a
           sibling? List five things that you could learn from such
           an experience.          
           Reviewed by Irene S. Roth


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