Jin Woo

by Eve Bunting

illustrated by Chris K. Soentpiet

Published by Clarion/Hougton Mifflin Company

32 pages, 2001

 

Elana's Ears or How I Became the Best Big Sister in the World

by Gloria Roth Lowell

illustrated by Karen Stormer Brooks

Published by Magination Press

32 pages, 2001

 

Nugget & Darling

by Barbara M. Joosse

illustrated by Sue Truesdell

Published by Clarion/Houghton Mifflin, New York

32 pages, 2001

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sibling Rivalry

Reviewed by Lynne Remick

 

Whether the older sibling is an adopted American boy about to receive a new Korean brother or a spoiled pet who inherits a human sister, it isn't easy when the latest little one comes along. Jin Woo, Elana's Ears and Nugget & Darling portray three entirely different sets of siblings and how each comes to terms with sibling rivalry. While Elana's Ears and Nugget & Darling provide a humorous view, Jin Woo shows jealousy in a more serious light.

Young David said he felt OK about getting a baby brother from a different country, but he didn't really believe it would happen. Then the phone call came that made his Mom and Dad cry tears of joy. The new baby was coming. But David didn't feel happy. That night, he cried tears of sadness. From that moment on, life would be different. David wanted things to stay the same.

We go out to dinner to celebrate. Mom tells the waiter about the baby. "He's coming from Korea," she says. "That's why we came to a Korean restaurant tonight. His name is Jin Woo." She shows him the photograph.

She and Dad don't eat much. "Too excited," Mom says.

I drink my milk. Were they this excited when they adopted me?

Through pensive and uncertain David, Eve Bunting allows the reader to witness the feelings of trepidation that arise in a child when its family changes. Bunting deals with this issue in an insightful and believable manner.

While David's own concerns of being less loved appear valid, his parents work hard to reassure David that they love him as they always have. When Jin Woo arrives at the airport, they immediately allow David to hold Jin Woo and then to sit next to him in the car. When David considers the big part he will play in the new baby's life, he realizes that being a big brother won't be so bad, after all.

Chris K. Soentpiet captures the heart of Bunting's thoughtful prose in his emotional watercolor illustrations. Every ray of hope, glimmer of disappointment and spark of understanding radiates each time Soentpiet sets his brush to the page.

Jin Woo pulls at your heartstrings. A highly worthwhile book for any sibling expecting a new brother or sister.

***

Elana's big sister is not like other big sisters. Elana's big sister is a dog named Lacey.

Not long ago, Lacey was an only child who loved barking and playing with her own room and toys. Then one night, Lacey's parents left quickly and returned home with a noisy pink bundle. A baby! Lacey's friends had warned her about babies. When a baby moves in, they said, so does trouble. Lacey became jealous of her little sister, Elana.

As I told you, my favorite hobby is barking, and that got me thinking. Maybe the kid could learn something if I showed her. So when I was around Elana, I started to bark a lot. I was hoping that she would share my hobby so the two of us could howl our brains out. But you know what? Elana never looked at me when I barked. I would stand behind her and bark my head off, but she wouldn't even turn around. This was making me crazy.

Lacey repeatedly tries to tell her parents that Elana can't hear, but being humans, it takes them a bit longer to figure it out. That's when Lacey realizes just how she can be the best big sister in the world.

Told from the point of view of Lacey, the dog, Elana's Ears provides a charming, humorous and fun look at what it feels like to get a new sister or brother. Lacey's wit and sarcasm will have young readers howling with laughter.

And, while Elana's Ears offers a humorous portrayal of sibling rivalry, an afterword by Dr. Jane Annunziata, Psy.D., entitled "A Note to Parents About Babies and Older Children" addresses the problem. This helpful reference includes "What to Expect," "What to Do Before the Baby Arrives," and "What to Do After the Baby Arrives."

Gloria Roth Lowell has chosen a timely topic for this charming picture book, which is informative as well as entertaining. Lowell's crisp, snappy text and Karen Stormer Brooks' adorable illustrations make a delightful pair, just like Lacey and Elana.

Even sharing a room hasn't turned out to be as terrible as I first thought. Sometimes, after Mom and Dad tuck us in, we play tug-of-war under the covers with her socks.
***

Nell and her dog Nugget fit together like a hand in a glove. When Nell is cold, Nugget keeps her feet warm. When Nell is sad, Nugget makes her laugh. When a caped Nell performs magic tricks, Nugget plays the rabbit.

One day, while playing in the yard, Nugget discovers a shivering kitten. Nell wraps the kitten in a blanket and brings her inside. Nell names the kitten "Darling," and gives her warm milk. But Nugget doesn't get any milk!

That night, Nell tied a floppy bow on the handle of Darling's basket and set it on the golden rug beside her bed. Nugget's rug!

"You can sleep right next to Nugget," she told Darling. "You don't mind, do you, Nugget?"

But Nugget did mind.

The rug smelled like him and had his hair on it. And that was the way he liked it.

Nugget liked life better before Darling came. Now, he slept on the cold hard floor, just to be away from Darling.

When Nell realizes that Nugget doubts her love for him, she decides to make some compromises. With a little give, and a little take, Nugget and Darling are soon friends and Nugget realizes it's not so bad to have a cat, after all!

Sue Truesdell's entirely appropriate illustrations highlight this adorable story about reluctant friends. In clear and easy to understand text, Barbara M. Joosse effectively captures the emotions that result when a new kid arrives on the scene, whether it be human or animal.

Nugget & Darling provides parents with yet another wonderful way to illustrate to rivaling siblings that there's room for everyone. | June 2001

 

An avid reader, established reviewer and writer of poetry, non-fiction, fiction, historical romance and children's books, Lynne Remick can always be found with a book in her hand. She lives in New York with her fiancé Michael, her son Kevin, her Schipperke Dante, a feral cat named Sahara and a spoiled hedgehog named Nike. There, in a little house once owned by her great grandparents, she reads, writes stories, book reviews, writing columns and poetry.