Matthew Cordell is the author and illustrator of one of my favorite picture books about two brothers and a pack of gum, Trouble Gum. Cordell's detailed, often humorous crisp line drawings are always perfectly accented with bright colors and the occasional wash and tell as much, if not more, of the story as the text. With Another Brother Cordell takes on a timeless (but surprisingly infrequently explored) subject - siblings.
Another Brother begins, "For four glorious years, Davy had Mom and Dad all to himself," and goes on to show the many ways in which Mom and Dad doted on everything that Davy said and did.
From singing to shearing off his own wool to knitting, there is nothing but praise for Davy. Then Petey arrives and vomits on Davy's scarf.
After Petey come Mike, Stu, Mickey, Carl, Pip, Ralph, Tate, Lenny, Gil, Ned, and Bob. Having read Another Brother several times at story time already, I can tell you that this list of names trips off the tongue like a well written poem. The twelve names pop up a few times over the course of the story and I loved reading them out loud each and every time. I wonder if Cordell read these names out loud as he was choosing them, or did they just flow from his creative brain? Twelve brothers. Brothers who want to do everything Davy does. Cordell does a fantastic job expressing Davy's growing frustration with this copy-catting through a wonderful series of scenes.
Cordell also does a brilliant job illustrating Davy's escape and freedom from the crowd that is his family. I love how he loses balloons as he rides down the hill, away from home. This is a perfect example of the true genius of a great illustrator - conveying the powerful (abstract) emotions of a moment with a visual, concrete action.
When Davy returns home, things are different. His brothers don't seem to want to copy him anymore and Davy begins to feel a freedom and aloneness that is not so liberating. However, there is (at least) one more sibling in his future and this time Davy knows exactly how to be the kind of big brother he wants to be.
Another Brother is another keeper from Cordell! One last super cool thing about this book, when you peek under the dust jacket you get these great images! I love it when an author/illustrator and publisher (in this case, Feiwel and Friends) come together to add a little extra something to an already superb story!
Check out this great book trailer!