Looking at the cover of Stephanie Thatcher’s book The Other Brother, you could be excused for thinking it will be another take on the story of the three little pigs, but you’d be wrong.
The story is about Bertie McQuerty and his three brilliant brothers and the cover shows a slightly sad little pig in one corner, looking up at three very smug pigs wearing ribbons and medals. Obviously Bertie – and his brilliant brothers.
Anyone who has grown up with siblings will love this book – I know I did! If you’ve got siblings who are good at something, whether it’s sport, art, or schoolwork, you will know that feeling of being left out if you don’t seem to have a talent for anything in particular.
That’s obviously how Bertie feels, regularly being asked if he is the sporty brother – no – the arty brother – no – or the clever brother – no. “I’m Bertie. The other brother,” he has to explain.
His brothers, Billy, Bobby and Barry, get more than their fair share of attention because, well, they’re brilliant. So Bertie decides he wants to be brilliant too, and gives sport, art and chess a go, with somewhat less than brilliant results.
But along the way he helps Gertie with her painting, and gives some kittens the attention they needed. While eating his lunch he ponders over other ways he could be brilliant, but when a teacher asks the same old questions about which McQuerty brother he is, his heart sinks a little further.
Until the teacher follows up with, “well then, you must be the kind brother”. Bertie stopped and had a little think and realised yes, he was the kind brother and that there were lots of different ways of being brilliant.
Stephanie Thatcher’s pencil and watercolour illustrations are absolutely delightful and the detail they contain will keep children enthralled. On the bottom of the back cover you will see a tiny chick and a note that says ‘can you find me inside the book?’ This adds another dimension to the book, as the chick is found on almost every page and children will love searching for him.
Reviewed by Faye Lougher
The Other Brother
by Stephanie Thatcher
Published by Scholastic NZ