I want to comment on two outstanding picture books that each provide a wonderful interpretation of the bonds children feel with their family and siblings.
Switched at birth — but pups prefer moms’ nurturing vs. biological family
“Gaston” by Kelly DiPucchio (Simon & Schuster, 2014) has a nature vs. nurture theme with a switched-at-birth organizing plot.
Gaston is a bulldog male puppy being raised by a family of proper and genteel french poodles. “They were taught to sip. Never slobber! And they were taught to walk with grace. Never race!” He fits right in with his elegantly trained poodle sisters.
One day, the mother poodle takes her puppies for a walk in the park and they meet a family of ruffian bull dog male puppies accompanied by their equally tough sister, Antoiniette, a poodle. Both mothers say, oops —- and exchange the puppies back to their biologic mothers.
But the respective puppies are not happy with the switch. They want to go back “home.”
This lovely illustrated book has a surprise ending involving tolerance for varied family upbringings. It’s a special treat for children and parents alike.
Jealous of the new born sibling — but becomes his biggest protector
“Wolfie the Bunny” by Ame Dyckman (Little, Brown and Company, 2015) is all about sibling rivalry — the jealously, fear, and ultimately the love and respect.
Dot, the big sister bunny does not care for the the baby wolf who has been left at her doorstep and adopted and showered with love by her parents. The wolf can do no wrong, and is constantly praised by mom and dad bunny. Meanwhile, Dot is incensed: “He’s going to eat us all up!” As Wolfie gets bigger, Dot’s concerns grow stronger. Wolfie, however, is infatuated with his big sister and follows her everywhere.
Wolfie does eat everything in the house, and the kids are sent out to the store to buy more carrots. This is where the big turnaround in the relationship happens. Dot saves Wolfie from a ferocious bear who wants Wolfie for dinner. Wolfie gives Dot the warmest hug. And they walk home hand in hand. A simply charming book.