Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Once Upon a Baby Brother by Sarah Sullivan - Book Review and Giveaway

My children will have a new cousin very soon! We are anxiously awaiting news today of the newest addition to our extended family. Little babies bring so much joy to families. However, sometimes siblings get a little jealous and may find the bundle of joy more annoying than cute. I'm interested to see how my nephew handles the upcoming changes. Hopefully, he won't have difficulty adjusting. My daughter embraced her new baby brother and never really seemed to show much resentment towards him. But now that he's a little older and more mischievous she gets a tad annoyed when he messes with her toys and she does get slightly jealous when he gets more attention.

Everything was fine UNTIL her little brother, Marvin, came along. When Lizzie tried to tell a story before breakfast, her mother said, "Not now, dear. Marvin has a dirty diaper." When she tried to tell her father a story after dinner, he said, "Maybe later, Lizzie. It's time for Marvin's bath."
Once Upon a Baby Brother by Sarah Sullivan, illustrated by Tricia Tusa. Farrar Straus Giroux (June 2010); ISBN 9780374346355; 32 pages; Ages 5-8
(Book Source: F&G Review copy from publisher, images used with permission)

Author Sarah Sullivan gives the classic sibling rivalry theme a comical and story-filled slant in her newest children's book about a big sister/little brother relationship. Lizzie, a young storyteller, loves to entertain everyone with her imaginative stories. When Marvin (her little brother) is born she continues telling stories but her parents are often too busy to listen. Lucky for her, she begins second-grade and her teacher, Miss Pennyroyal, encourages all the kids in her class to write stories. Lizzie ends up coping with her pesky brother by writing stories that star Marvin as an unpleasant character -- he's an ugly prince, a Marvinosaurus and even a nasty pirate. Lizzie uses her special Princess Merriweather pencil and her creative stories starring Marvin flow forth onto the pages. Then one fateful week Lizzie can't think of a single idea for her new school assignment. A hero eventually emerges and Lizzie realizes that having a sometimes annoying baby brother isn't necessarily a bad thing.

This amusing tale not only helps children appreciate their siblings but it also may inspire a new generation of writers. I was expecting a book about siblings but I wasn't expecting the amazingly creative ways Sullivan manages to make writing sound exciting for children. Seriously, where can we get our very own Princess Merriweather pencil topper like Lizzie's? Teachers and parents will find this book useful in helping children overcome writer's block by encouraging kids to write like Lizzie and describe their own personal experiences. Tricia Tusa happens to be one of my favorite illustrators and has a talent for bringing creative children characters to life (see my reviews of In a Blue Room or The Magic Hat). Her familiar, whimsical illustrations work perfectly in this story, and I especially love how she realistically includes multi-racial characters, even a minority teacher, in Lizzie's class. All of Lizzie's facial expressions are fantastic, especially those showing her exasperation and frustration with her brother. And once again I must mention Tusa's awesome illustrations of the Princess Merriweather pencil topper -- quirky perfection!

Like Lizzie, my daughter also loves to write and illustrate her own stories. Sometimes her stories include her brother, but I don't think she's ever turned him into a nasty character. I could see the wheels spinning in her head though as I read Sullivan's story aloud. I know she gets impatient with her little brother every once and awhile. She connected more deeply with this picture book than many others and it has already inspired her! Immediately after we read the story together, she grabbed a marker and some paper and set to work on her own book. While it didn't include her brother, she did say if she writes a story about her brother he'll be a great character. Awww, it just pulls at my heart strings! Lizzie, the main character in Once Upon a Baby Brother, is obviously is a good role model. However, I do think that a better title for this story would be "Once Upon a Little Brother" because the little brother in the story is more young toddler-aged than baby. Little brothers do indeed know exactly what buttons to push to aggravate their big sisters!

❖❖❖❖❖❖ Story Stretcher Project - Princess Merriweather Pencil Topper Craft ❖❖❖❖❖❖

We couldn't resist making our own Princess Merriweather pencil topper! It's always more fun to write when you have a fun writing instrument. My daughter went simple with this craft and drew her own princess (a ballerina version) on some card stock, then we taped the princess to a Number 2 pencil. Super cute, super easy and ready for some novel writing adventures!

Related Links:

Sarah Sullivan - Author Website
Mountain View - Sarah Sullivan's blog
Sarah Sullivan's printable bookmarks
Scholastic article - "Help your child overcome writer's block"

JKSCommunications has kindly offered to giveaway one copy of Once Upon a Baby Brother to a Brimful Curiosities reader.

To enter, leave a comment relevant to this post or share a sibling rivalry memory.
• For contact purposes, if you are a non-blogger or your email is not accessible in your blog profile, please leave a valid email address within the comment section.
• Contest is open to US/Canada
• Contest ends on Monday, June 21st, 2010 at 11:59 PM CST.
• Winner will be chosen at random and sent an email notification.
Three ways to gain extra entries (Maximum total entries is 4; please leave a separate comment for each entry):
1st extra entry: Blog about this contest then post your link in the comment section.
2nd extra entry: Follow me on twitter (iambrimful) and tweet about the contest.
3rd extra entry: Follow Me! or subscribe by email or RSS reader

I am an Amazon affiliate and may receive a very small commission for products purchased through my Amazon links. (View my full disclosure statement for more information about my reviews.)


annies home said...

I totally thought about our pastors grandchildren they have not had a boy in the family for many years and recently had a son born. This young man has 2 older sisters who I am sure will give him much rivalry in their own way

Jen said...

This book looks great! I have two sisters and one brother, so I can think of a lot of stories- luckily, we are all very close as adults. My older brother would pretend he was the hulk and throw me around. My older sister would fight with me alot- one time she even locked me out of the house!
Hope I win the book. My 6 year old is adjusting well to having a baby brother, but there are moments where I can see she struggles with it when I'm not as available for her.

Creative and Curious Kids!

ps. Thanks for the comment- great idea to draw a maze with chalk for the bikes. Just thinking - toy cars would be cute, too. Make a chalk racetrack.

Jen said...

I posted on my blog.



Z-Kids said...

I love Tricia Tusa too! She's had some great titles of late.

And that's a fabulous homemade pencil topper! Homemade stuff is the best.

Thanks for hosting the giveaway...

Sandra Stiles said...

I am a follower. The timing is right for this book. My daughter is expecting a son in about 3 months. Her daughter Haylee is excited right now but I can see them having problems down the line. She's always been the center of attention.

When my babysister was born my younger sister Pam brought diapers and a bottle to my parents and insisted they put the diaper on her and give her a bottle and send Patty back to the hospital because she wanted to be the baby. This jealousy carried on for years and years. Whenever we played a game she always had to be the baby.

CarrieAnn13 said...

we have a new babu boy in our house and this would be a great story for his older siblings

apple blossom said...

when my sisters and I started fighting my mom would always say I'm going to send you outside so the neighbors can see you fighting.

ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

The Halton Mom said...

Sibling rivalry eh? Well where do I begin. The stick is MINE...that bike is MINE....that is MY juice..Moma..Moma...he's touching me. My daughter would really enjoy this book she has a brother of her own she wishes she could trade in. Thanks for the opportunity.

The Halton Mom said...

I follow you on twitter!
lil_wifey21 at yahoo dot com

Staci A said...

This sounds like a wonderful book! I would love to share it with my niece who often lets those feelings of rivalry creep in! I remember when we were little, we were constantly fighting over things, toys, attention. One particularly bad day, my brother stole my Barbies and melted their faces against a light!
mommastaci33 at yahoo dot com

Ms. Anita said...

What a cute idea to make a pencil-topper! I'm glad you included a picture of the one your daughter made... so cute!
roseinthemorning [at] gmail [dot] com

Ms. Anita said...

I follow you and am subscribed. roseinthemorning [at] gmail [dot] com

ossmcalc said...

Sibling rivalry was very much there in my family as I had five younger siblings: 3 boys and two girls. We fought over everything from who got the mail to who got to put the money in the toll hamper. I would not have traded those times for the world. Please enter me into this giveaway.

Thank you,


ossmcalc said...

I follow you on Twitter and tweeted about this giveaway http://twitter.com/ossmcalc/status/16059392248

Thank you,


ossmcalc said...

I subscribe via email.

Thank you,


Mary Elizabeth said...

Such whimsical illustrations!! My fingers are crossed!!
mclaingreen (at) yahoo (dot) com

Sandra Stiles said...

Thanks the timing is right. My daughter is expecting a son in September. Her daughter Haylee is excited but at times we see the jealousy popping out. I believe this will be a useful book.

KR said...

I am the youngest of 4. One Christmas, I had written Santa and asked for a horse. On Christmas morning there was a saddle under the tree with a note from Santa saying that he had brought ALL of us a horse to share. When the rest of the family awoke, the note had disappeared! I insisted that the horse must be mine since I had written the letter!! I never did like sharing!!


Mozi Esme said...

We posted about this giveaway at Winning Readings: http://winningreadings.blogspot.com/2010/06/once-upon-baby-brother_20.html

Linda Kish said...

My sister thought she would be funny once when I was little and gave me a bottle of ammonia to sniff. It wasn't so funny. We became best friends by the time we were in late teens.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

rosannepm said...

I thought my 2 year old would be happy to see his baby brother. He seemed like it as he'd stroke his face then try to scratch him! or he'd try to pull him out of the infant seat.

rosannepm said...

Follow on Twitter and tweeted: ttps://twitter.com/rosannepm/status/16698695431

K said...

I would love to have a copy of this book to read to my son! We are making plans for a sibling and we're so worried as to how he will cope with having to share us.
romancingthestork (at) gmail (dot) com

cman said...

Two of mine are constantly fighting.. wish I could stop it!

mverno said...

king of the mountain with my brother and sister mverno@roadrunner.com

tina reynolds said...

My brother and I always were fighting we were always trying to do better than the other, my kids fight but not like my brother and I they are only 3 and 4, I am working hard in getting them to be close, like I wish I was with my brother.

tina reynolds said...

I subscribe also I forgot the tweet link in my last post


Anonymous said...

My brother are still playing a tennis game from decades ago!


Anonymous said...

I feel bad that as the oldest, I wasn't kinder to my younger sister. I really like her and looked up to her even though she was younger.

Celeste said...

My 4 year old daughter just got her very own baby brother. We would love this book for her!

Katie said...

Would love to win a copy of this book... many of my preschoolers this year welcomed new siblings to the family and seemed to have a hard time adjusting. A new supply of "new sibling" books might come in handy!