Review of We Are Brothers, by Yves Nadon, illustrated by Jean Claverie

We Are Brothers

by Yves Nadon
illustrated by Jean Claverie

Creative Editions, Mankato, MN, 2018. 32 pages.
Starred Review
2018 Sonderbooks Stand-out: #5 Other Picture Books

This picture book tells a simple story of two brothers who go to a swimming hole every summer. The big brother jumps off the big rock into the water. He tells the little brother it’s his turn this year.

The pictures are what make this wonderful. We see the rock from the little brother’s perspective, and it’s simply enormous, towering overhead.

Then, when it’s his turn, he climbs the rock like a cat. When he gets to the top –

Legs shaking, turning around, the water seems so far away. Too far. A breeze makes me shiver.

How does the illustrator manage to portray him standing there, shivering? There are no motion lines, but you see him hunched into himself, his legs looking thin and small and his eyes looking huge. He looks cold and small and afraid. The next spread pulls back and shows his big brother a tiny head and arms in the water below.

Then the jump.

And then, I am yelling, my arms circling, my legs running in the air. My hands stretch for the sky, while my feet call for water. My eyes find my brother’s.

I am bird.

Then the water, where he becomes fish.

And the book finishes with the brothers doing it all again – together.

What’s wonderful about this book is the way it immerses you in the amazing and memorable moments of a boy’s first chance to do the great big thing – just like his brother. Time stops and starts as you read, and you’re right there.

So lovely.

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Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but the views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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