Book Review: ‘My Brother is a Beast’ by Damon Young, illustrated by Peter Carnavas, University of Queensland Press (2017)
Picture books, especially those targeted at pre and early readers, tend to be at their best when they are shared. While for the most part reading to our five-year-old daughter is the responsibility of my husband and myself; I love it when I find a picture book that has other members of the family clambering to get in on the action too. This was the situation when My Brother is a Beast appeared on my door step. “Awesome!” proclaimed Master Eleven as he turned to his younger sister, “I’m reading this to you tonight.” Our youngest child, by way of positive reaction, promptly squealed with delight.
I firmly believe that books are meant to be shared, and that while parents are ultimately the key players in fostering a love of reading in children, there is nothing more powerful to this endeavour, than when the whole family (especially older children) get involved in the promotion of reading as a joyful activity. You see, often it doesn’t matter how many books children have, unless the home is one where reading is the dominant culture for all, it can be difficult to engage children in this activity (or get them to think positively about reading as a form of leisure). Indeed, Young and Carnavas’ series of books are exciting, in that they not only encourage the sharing of stories but they promote positive relationships between siblings (and other family members) with books as the vehicle.
My Brother is a Beast is the fourth book in a series of books celebrating family (My Sister is a Superhero, My Nana is a Ninja and My Pop is a Pirate). This, along with other books in the series will provide a perfect entry point for discussions about family structures and diversity. Directed primarily towards children in the early years, My Brother is a Beast is appropriate for use in child-care, pre-school and junior primary settings. Of course, with the strong focus upon family it will certainly become a favourite choice shared between siblings. As with the other titles in the series, the simple language is accessible for even the youngest of children, while beginning readers will find enough challenge to be extended without being overwhelmed. Children will enjoy the rhythmic language in a narrative that makes use of simple alliteration and a clear pattern and rhyme that will encourage participation.
I was again enamoured with Carnavas’ delightful watercolour illustrations rendered in cheery colours. Text is clear and easy to read for beginner readers and children will enjoy following the words with their fingertips as they weave and move across the page. As with the other titles in the series, children will enjoy finding the various animal characters scattered throughout the story. Children will also appreciate exploring the sepia illustrations found in the inside of both back and front covers.
My Brother is a Beast is a light, yet deeply engaging read that demands to be re-visited, all the while fostering a love of language in young readers.
Tanya Grech Welden