Friday, September 26, 2014

Big Little Mother by Kevin Kling

Big Little Mother by Kevin Kling, illustrated by Chris Monroe

Rating: 4 stars

I was prepared not to like this book, based on the title and cover. Then I reminded myself that that whole "don't judge a book by its cover" thing exists for a reason, so I did my best to suspend my disbelief and read the book. Glad I did! It's a a cute story.

The little brother in this story will always have a) a big sister and b) a cat, Kittywumpus, that is also older than him. Kittywumpus is that big sister's chosen playmate nine times out of ten; sometimes, if she's in just the right mood, that little brother gets to play along a little, too.

Until the day that Kittywumpus bolts out the door, and that big sister is forced to turn to her little brother and play with him. Things go well and things go smoothly as they play Adventures in Cardboard, Couch Cushion Treasure Hunt, and Sweet Moves in Groovy Threads. They pause between games to look for Kittywumpus, but then go back to each other and their creative play.

There's a sprinkling of mean-big-sister stuff in here, and I really dislike how she's mean--and how the little brother goes along with it as if he has to, as if his assertiveness needs not apply when dealing with his older sister.  I don't love this part of their relationship, though no sibling relationship is certainly perfect.

The end is fairly predictable, but not in a bad way. Kittywumpus does return, but the little brother remains in the big sister's circle of chosen playmates. The little brother is ecstatic to be accepted by her, even with the sprinkling of cool unkindness.

(My problem with the title/cover: I don't like the idea of oldest girls being "little mothers." Because I have an oldest girl and two younger boys, I hear "Oh! Is she like a little mother to them?" way too frequently. That's my own pet peeve I didn't mean to throw onto an innocent picture book...but did anyway...)

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