Dec 17, 2011

Dogs Don’t Eat Jam and Other Things Big Kids Know

You know how kids go through a phase where they want to impart every bit of knowledge they have? Even if they only gained that knowledge five seconds previously? My kids are going through that phase. I'm still in that phase, come to think of it (why else would I have a blog dedicated to telling you what to read?)

This tendency can be helpful or can veer over into bossy. This is a hard line to walk, I know! Japanese schools are really good at getting older kids to help younger kids out. As soon as kids go up a grade there are younger ones they need to guide around a new school, or help with a particularly difficult kanji, or to show how to ride a unicycle. I, however, have generally been on the bossy side. Sorry little brother.

Dogs Don't Eat Jam and Other Things Big Kids Know (CAN, JP, US) by Sarah Tsiang and illustrated by Qin Leng and published by Annick Press, features an older sibling on the nice side of helpful. I think all that humour helps too.

This is the guide an older sister presents to her new baby brother. She takes him through all the things she knows, right from the start, such as eating, communicating, and managing parents in the middle of the night. She then takes Little Bro up to her own age, and shows him skills such as zippers and caring for their pet that she has just recently gotten the hang of. Big Sis makes it clear where her knowledge comes from, pure trial and error, like when learning to pour a certain amount into a smaller cup.

I have written about Qin Leng's illustrations before, when I featured her short story, Down at the Beach. Her illustrations continue to draw me in (whomp-whomp). I love these tiny faces and joy-infused limbs of her characters.

I love that this book shows the siblings working together, and that the older sibling doesn't seem put off by a new addition at all. This is a message I want my kids to understand- but the most important thing they both learned from it was that no matter how mad their father and I get at them, we still love them.

I loved this book enough that I nominated it for the Cybils in the Fiction Picture Book category. The first round short lists will be announced on Jan. 1, and I really hope this book is on that list!

This is the 19th book I read for the 5th Canadian Book Challenge.

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