My brother by Dee, Oliver and Tiffany Huxley
Working Title Press, 2016. ISBN 9781921504853
(Age: 8+) Highly recommended. Grief and loss. Death. Siblings. The opening double page shows an animal sitting alone at a table, telling the reader how he misses his brother and how lost he is without him, then the eyes are naturally drawn to the illustrations. Astute eyes will take in the pair of overcoats and Wellington boots beneath, and know that the brother is missing. He determines to find him, setting out into the world beyond his little house, a duck as his companion.
The pair search the places his brother liked to go, they search high and low, lovely places, scary places, over here and over there, for days and nights, until he is so tired, he must lie down and sleep.
The stunning sepia illustrations reflect the despair the creature is feeling at the loss of his brother. Each page reflects the strange world he is searching: a clock with its cat and mouse, a city by the sea, through medieval places, animals drinking by an African river, the view from a balloon, and so on. Each illustration will attract the attention of the reader eager to take in their fantastic complexity.
As the creature wakes, more colour appears on the page, and he comes to acknowledge that although his brother is gone, he is everywhere in his memories of what they did together.
This is a stunning story of acceptance: of overcoming grief, of memory keeping that person alive. Time passes as the moon waxes and wanes, and the clock strikes, and the creature climbs a never ending staircase. But in the end the memory of what he and his brother did together beings the sun back into his life.
For middle primary people this will initiate discussions of grief and loss, of acceptance and the passing of time.