We’re brothers, we are.
That’s what he had said. Suddenly, his arm was around my shoulder as we kneeled together on my bedroom floor, surrounded by most of my toys. He had looked up at my mum as she held her camera to take the photo, and that’s exactly what came out of his mouth when the camera flash went off. In the photo, he was smiling, although his eyes didn’t seem to. In the photo, my mouth was open and I looked a little surprised.
In truth, I remembered being angry. This boy, who I didn’t know, had snuck away from everybody else in our backyard and found my bedroom. He had found all my toys as well, and by the time I discovered him, nearly everything I liked and played with was spread across my bedroom.
Kieran is in his last year at primary school and things are going okay for him until his cousin, Bon, arrives. Bon is about Kieran’s age, but that seems like all they have in common. And now Bon is going to Kieran’s school, he’s ruining everything. Kieran wishes Bon would just go away. But at home, everyone thinks he’s great. Even his little sister. Even Nan. Nothing is the same. Everyone else thinks Kieran should be looking out for Bon, even the Julia, the other new kid at school. But Kieran is more inclined to listen to Mason and Lucas, the cool kids at school. They, like him, see Bon as unusual and the only attention they’re going to give him is their scorn.
In Other Brother Simon French offers another gritty and realistic story about families and relationships, about a boy on the brink of high school and puberty discovering a more complex world. Kieran’s behaviour appears perfectly rational and reasonable as he objects to the forced relationship with his odd-seeming cousin. Only gradually does Kieran emerge from his bubble of self to begin to see what’s going on around him. It’s not a quick or easy transition, but Kieran works through the challenges before him and is then able to appreciate and help others around him. Walker Books have just rereleased Other Brother, ‘Cannily Cannily’ and ‘Change the Locks’. All were published earlier and well received by readers, and recognised by the CBCA Awards. It’s fabulous to see all three books back in print. They have lost nothing of their impact and can now be enjoyed by new readers. Recommended for upper-primary readers.
Other Brother, Simon French
Walker Books Australia 2012
review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author