REVIEW: My Brother Tom by Michelle Worthington and Illustrated Ann-Marie Finn

Published: 1st March 2017

Publisher: Wombat Books

Pages: 32

Format: Soft-cover Picture book (Purchased)

RRP: $14.99

5/5 Stars

My Brother Tom is a story for older siblings of premature babies, to help them make sense of what is happening at a difficult time. Royalties from the sale of this book will be donated to Life’s Little Treasures Foundation in the name of Tom Worthington Walker.

 

My Brother Tom is an astoundingly beautiful and heart moving picture book by Aussie Author Michelle Worthington and illustrator Ann-Marie Finn.

I stumbled across My Brother Tom in the bookshop at the most recent CYA (Children Young Adult) conference in Brisbane earlier this year. I picked the book up without reading the blurb and was instantly moved to tears by the story and the illustrations and simply HAD to buy the book. For what Michelle Worthington and Ann-Marie Finn have created here is not just a picture book about premature babies, but an emotional journey and experience through a child’s eyes. My Brother Tom is an emotional and visceral experience that is sure to tug at heart strings as the narrative is not only heartbreaking, but heart-warming as we witness a story that seeks to explain and reassure a child and their family at large about the many complications surrounding premature birth.

My Brother Tom seeks to explain in a child’s own words what is happening all around them when a younger sibling is born prematurely. Thus the stories targeted audience is older siblings of premature babies, but the books appeal and audience is in fact a lot more wider and far reaching than simply that.

On a personal note, I’m not an older sibling of a premature baby. As the eldest of four girls, I’ve never witnessed this happen to someone else. But I am constantly reminded by my family at large at the fear that being born premature creates. You see, I was born prematurely myself and this book allowed me to see first hand the overwhelming experience my parents talk about. It enabled me to understand and experience the fear and uncertainty in what felt like an honest and raw way, and it put into perspective just how earth shattering the whole long experience must have felt like for them.

Michelle Worthington is an award winning author who speaks openly and honestly about life’s biggest and sometimes more unexpected challenges in this book. Her story is simply in delivery but packs one hell of a strong emotional punch. I particularly love that she chose to tell this story through the eyes of an older sibling and to explore how it would feel to witness your younger brother living in hospital and fighting for his life each day. It’s clear from the story, and the information in the back of the book that this story means the world to Michelle Worthington as all royalties are donated to Life’s Little Treasure’s Foundation in honour of her son, Tome Worthington Walker.

Ann-Marie Finn’s illustrations capture the heart and soul of Michelle Worthington’s narrative in My Brother Tom. Blue and darker colours dominate the majority of the book (until the happier resolution where yellow and lighter colours take over the pages) and I was really moved by the positioning of the characters and Finn’s illustrations. The cover illustration (pictured above) is also the opening page illustration and the only image in the entire book where either parent’s face is facing the reader. This distance, and the emotion conveyed through their body posture and languageĀ  allows for the sibling to take the story on as their own, but also allows for greater freedom and vulnerability of the story as a whole. Every single image of each double page spread is simply astoundingly beautiful in its own right, but when combined with Michelle Worthington’s story, it becomes something more vulnerable and honest. Something so tangible and perfectly imperfect.

My Brother Tom is an ideal starting point for anyone who has wondered what it really feels like to have a child/sibling born premature, and it’s a great discussion starter for what is often regaled as a hushed conversation that we don’t speak about in public.

My Brother Tom is a story with a hole lot of heart. It’s honest and real, and the families vulnerability really shines through on the page. It’s both heart breaking and heart warming at the same time, and is a book that left me astounded yet again by the power of picture books. It’s a picture book that transcends the realm of picture books, and it has universal appeal that will speak to readers of all ages, family backgrounds and structures regardless of whether they have or know of any babies born prematurely.

You can purchase a copy of My Brother Tom via the following online retailers:

Booktopia | Bookdepository | Amazon US | Wombat Books | Ebay |

 

To learn more about Michelle Worthington, visit the following social media sites:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads | PINTEREST | Youtube |

to learn more about ann-marie finn, visit the following social media sites:

website | Wombat Books Australia | Facebook |

 

 

 

 

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