Brothers from a different mother by Phillip Gwynne

cover image

Ill. by Marjorie Crosby-Fairall. Penguin Viking, 2017. ISBN 9780670078486
(Age: 5+) Highly recommended. Difference. Pigs. Tapir. Understanding. Tapir and Pig see that they are similar, both in colouring and size, shape and interests. But when they swim together they see that they are similar but different.
'You are a pig like me, but you're not a pig like me', Pig says to Tapir and has the same response from the Tapir. They decide that although they have some differences, they must be brothers from a different mother. They happily play together, but are subjected to harsh criticism from their parents. Both tell their offspring that they have no brothers and must stay away from each other. The Tapir and the Pig are lonely and eventually find each other once again, playing as happily as they have done in the past. Asking other animals gives them no clues, but when their parents find them once again playing together, they look like they are having so much fun that the Dads join in.
I love Gwynne's use of repetition, of each animal shadowing the other's words, making it an ideal story for readers to read along with the narrator. And the vivacious illustrations with a predominance of mud colours give a neat understanding of where these animals are from.
In the wake of Trump and Hanson, perhaps we need to have issues spelt out more keenly such as Gwynne has done here, eschewing the subtlety that some authors choose when presenting this issue. Readers will recognise and understand the issue Gwynne is bringing to the fore, and I can imagine a whole range of discussions in classrooms where this book is read out loud.
Fran Knight