Sunday, July 11, 2010

Sister, Sister: But I Wanted a Baby Brother! by Kate Feiffer and Diane Goode

by Oliver Keaton

My name is Oliver Keaton. My initials are OK.

We have one dog. His name is Chaplin. I don't have any sisters and I don't want a sister.

I want a brother.

But when Oliver Keaton's parents bring home his newborn sibling, he learns an old lesson--you get what you get--and what he gets is a pleasant, pink-clad sister. As far as Oliver is concerned, she only has one good point:

She was bald. Not many girls are bald.

It was important to look happy when they said, "She looks just like you, Oliver," because if she really looked just like me, she'd be a HE!

Oliver comes up with a plan. Maybe he can secretly switch his baby sister for another kid's baby brother. To his surprise, his friends at school are only too eager to make the exchange. Tom's baby brother bawls all day, unlike Julie, whose favorite noise is a giggle. Mary's baby brother keeps her awake all night crying, unlike the cheerful Julie, who already sleeps through the night. Other baby brothers look dumb, unlike the smart Julie, who is beginning to try to say his name and who can already throw a ball, sort of.

Oliver talks his parents into taking the whole family to the zoo park. There are sure to be plenty of smart, athletic boy babies there, right? Nope, all the babies Oliver sees are drooly, sleepy, or screaming in anger.

Then he sees a wonderful sign: "CHANGE BABIES," a magical looking place where crying babies go in and happy babies came out! Could this be just the place to swap a baby sister for a baby brother? Oliver pushes his way inside and recoils in horror. A row of yucky baby bottoms is laid out on a long diapering table, and the smell is unmentionable! Ack! Oliver is outa there!

Oliver and Chaplin don't give up quickly, but after a year of searching and examining 106 boy babies, there seems no hope.

None of those baby boys are even up to Julie's standard.

Julie crawled faster, laughed louder, and was more fun to play with than any of the baby brothers out there. She had even learned to throw a ball.

Oliver has to admit it. Julie is pretty cool, even for a sister. But then, when his parents announce that they're having another baby, Oliver can't help thinking.....

Kate Feiffer's newest, But I Wanted a Baby Brother! is a wise and witty little homily about hoping for the perfect sibling, charmingly illustrated by the talented Diane Goode, whose abilities to take a picture book text to the next level are amply displayed here. Her Julie, with her almost bald head and big smile that tells us that she is delighted with her big brother, scowl and all, is cute and cuddly, and the red-haired Oliver, determined to ditch his sister for a baby of a better gender, is the perfect nobody-asked-me-if-I-wanted-a baby-sister older brother. As the reviewer for School Library Journal succinctly puts it, "This clever cautionary tale is nothing short of spectacular."



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