Becky and her brother John were best buddies, telling jokes, caring for their dog Toby together, and playing soccer. John was always there to cheer her up and help her outuntil he died. Becky wishes everything could go back to the way it was.
When she is surprised and feels guilty about enjoying a friend's birthday party, her mom wraps reassuring arms around her and says, "Don't you think he'd want you to laugh, even now?" She gradually realizes that she can still enjoy the things that they used to do together and that the memories of John continue to make him part of their family.
Always My Brother is a sensitive, realistic story about the process of grief, acceptance, and recovery. Phyllis Pollema-Cahill's lovely illustrations bring readers right into the heart of Becky's family as they struggle to move forward.
About the Author
Jean Reagan lives in Salt Lake City, Utah with her husband, Peter, and daughter, Jane. Their beloved son and brother, John, died in 2005. Born in Alabama, Jean spent most of her childhood in Japan. Since graduating from Earlham College, she has worked as a community organizer, a union activist, and a writer. She cherishes her years as a full-time mother when she also worked at her children's public school, the Open Classroom. In the summers, her family lives in a tiny, remote cabin in Grand Teton National Park where she and Peter serve as volunteer backcountry rangers. Bears visit them frequently.
Phyllis Pollema-Cahill grew in rural Minnesota. She went to work as an assistant artist in a small design studio right after high school, and ended up being creative director for one of the McGraw-Hill divisions. She later received a degree in illustration from Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design and has been illustrating full-time for children since December 1995. She has illustrated over forty children's books and many magazine stories, as well as textbooks, activity books, posters, and book covers. Phyllis lives in the Colorado countryside with her husband and their two cats. She has three grown step-children and three step-grandchildren.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Reagan delicately and gently deals with the sudden death of a child-sibling. This book does not deal with any of the spiritual aspects of death, but rather deals with a family's life finding "normalcy" after such a huge loss; this book could be used by anyone of any faith with dealing with the daily here-and-now of a loved-one's death and how to continue daily life. I was surprised out how well this book communicated the feelings of the family--especially the surviving sister--without being heavy-handed, overly-dramatic, or preachy. This story really had the right balance.I also liked that the story never tells you why or how the brother died. The cause or reason does not matter for the message of the book and this omission actually enhances the message of the book and makes the book more universal for anyone dealing with such a loss. No comparisons can be made about the cause of death--just about the grief.This book will be of great service to anyone--especially a child--dealing with the death of a family member.
Summary:This is a story about a sister and brother who always play together but the brother dies. The sister, Becky, is crippled by her brother¿s death and doesn¿t quite understand that she has to let him go. One day, she goes to a party where she doesn¿t think about her brother, then comes home burdened by guilt. Her parents explain to her that it¿s okay to forget him sometimes because he¿ll always be in her heart. This helps Becky cope with her brother¿s death and her life slowly comes back to feeling normal with her brother in her heart.Personal Reaction:I thought this was a very touching book. I have never had a sibling die, but I have had two of my grandparents die when I was young whom I felt very close with so I can relate to how Becky felt. I think this is a great book to show children who are going through something like this how to cope and that it¿s okay to move on. It¿s a great example to teach kids to keep those you love in your hearts at all time. Even though I really enjoyed this heartfelt book, I don¿t think I would read this book to a classroom. I would keep this on the bookshelf, available for anyone to read and suggest it to a child who is going through a similar situation.Extension Ideas:1) Have the class discuss what happened to Becky and her brother. Have them talk about how they would feel if they were Becky, and things they could do if they were her to keep her brother in her heart.2) Have the class write in their daily journal about someone they love and keep in their hearts all the time, weather its someone who is dead or alive.
Always my Brother looks at the issue of death within a family, geared towards younger children, probably ages 7-11. The details of the story are a bit on the vague side. Becky and her brother John played soccer and walked home together, sharing special moments. We then learn that John died, yet don't really learn what happens. The story follows the process of grieving and slowly allowing one's life to return to normal. While I wish there were more details, the other side of this is that is allows each reader to relate with their own experiences. Overall, children learn it's okay to grieve and miss someone, but also that it's okay to go on with your own life at your own pace. It's nice to have another resource for children who deal with loss, and with the easy to follow story and nice artwork, Always My Brother proves to be a helpful book.