Always My Brother by Jean Reagan, Illustrated by Phyllis Pollema-Cahill
Posted by caribookscoops on May 24, 2011
I met Jean Reagan at a Utah Book Bloggers Social in February 2010 and she offered to send me a copy of her book, Always my Brother* for review. She explained what it was about and I knew immediately it was a book I wanted to review. It took me a while (over a year) to post my review, but it is finally here and as part of Utah Author’s Month, Jean also graciously agreed to an author interview. Her book deals with a very hard topic, sibling death. While I have not personally dealt with this, I know people who have and I also look for books that help children deal with all kinds of life’s issues from going to school, to chronic health conditions, to sibling rivalry. Death is probably the hardest topic to discuss with children along with sexuality as it makes adults uncomfortable. It’s hard, nobody likes to talk about it and yet we will all experience it.
I read the book with my then 6 year old and I have to admit I was nervous about reading a book about death with her especially since I am about to give birth to her baby brother. I didn’t want to scare her unnecessarily. Her experience with death is limited to 2 great-grandparents and a dear professor friend of mine. I was pleasantly surprised at how well my daughter liked the book. We had a good conversation about death and life and how all humans die. Plus we could talk about our beliefs in an afterlife.
So with that in mind, I really liked the book. Based on Jean’s own experience of loosing her son and watching her daughter go through the grief process. I have not lost a sibling, but I know it would devastating for me, but would be really hard is to watch my children deal with the death of one of their siblings. Some things I really appreciated about the book is that is mentions nothing about a religion making this book universally available to any child who has lost sibling regardless of belief system. Jean also does not mention a specific cause of death allowing parents or broadening the audience of her book to any child who has a lost a sibling.
If you know of children who have lost a sibling this would be an excellent choice. In fact, after the school I work at experienced three student deaths within one month this last year, I recommended Always My Brother to our school pyscologist. When I told him about the premise of the book and a bit about Jean’s son, he agreed that siblings are often ignore or missed in the aftermath of a child’s death. He really liked the book and thought it would be a great book to use with children and teens.
Jean Reagan’s website and remember to stay tuned for our author interview with Jean coming Friday, May 27th.
Physllis Pollema-Cahill’s website
*This review copy was given by the author