Cover image for Emma's yucky brother
Emma's yucky brother
1st Harper Trophy ed.
Publication Information:
New York : HarperTrophy, 2002.
Physical Description:
63 p. : col. ill. ; 22 cm.
Reading Level:
480 L Lexile
Added Author:
Local Subject:
Emma finds out how hard it is to be a big sister when her family adopts a four-year-old boy named Max.


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Emma has always wanted a little brother. Now her family is adopting Max, and Emma is sure he will be the best brother ever. But Max has his own ideas. He thinks sisters are yucky, and that Emma is the yuckiest! Is this really what having a brother is all about?

In Jean Little's warmhearted, perceptive story about adoption, Emma learns that there is more to having a little brother than she had ever guessed -- and that in order to get the brother she wants, she must first learn to be the sister he needs.

Author Notes

Jean Little was born in Taiwan in 1932. She was born with a severe eye problem and is severely visually impaired. Little grew up in Ontario and graduated from the University of Toronto. A special "talking" computer assists her with her writing. She has a retired seeing-eye dog named Ritz and a new one named Pippa, with whom she travels.

Little has written more than 25 children's books, and won a number of awards, including a Canadian Library Association (CLA) Book of the Year Medal and a Canada Council Children's Literature Award. Little has been writing children's books for almost forty years. Listen for the Singing was the Canada Council Children's Literature Award winner in 1977. Mama's Going to Buy You a Mockingbird was the CLA Book of the Year in 1985. Little's first book, Mine for Keeps, won the Little Brown Children's Book Award in 1962 and was republished by Viking Penguin in 1995.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 4

School Library Journal Review

K-Gr 3-Emma has wanted a little brother for as long as she can remember, so when her parents are about to adopt four-year-old Max, she is excited. First, though, she needs to overcome his seeming dislike for her. The relationship is rocky, but in the end both siblings recognize the special bond they share. The children's reactions to the new family dynamics are realistic and the steps involved in Max's move from a foster home to his adoptive family will leave readers with a much better understanding of the emotional toll such a move has on everyone involved. These feelings are adeptly captured in the art. The expressive faces of Emma, Max, and their parents reflect the many moods of this evolving family. The gentle tone makes this book a wonderful resource for parents and caregivers/foster families helping youngsters understand this process of acceptance and change.-Maura Bresnahan, Shawsheen School, Andover, MA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Horn Book Review

No longer the shy Emma of [cf2]Emma's Magic Winter,[cf1] this big-sister-to-be is excited to meet her adopted brother--but being a sister is a lot harder than she imagined. Five short chapters with simple but expressive illustrations frame this bittersweet story. With patience and understanding, Emma eventually gains Max's trust; newly independent readers will be won over, too. From HORN BOOK Fall 2001, (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Review

The very best easy readers also succeed as picture books or read-alone fiction that a child would choose to read as an entertaining story rather than an educational exercise. Little and Plecas achieve that unusual status with their second collaboration about Emma (Emma's Magic Winter, 1998), a shy little girl with an African-American best friend, Sally, who lives next door with her little brother, Josh. Emma's family is adopting a four-year-old boy named Max, and Emma has unrealistic big-sister ideas that don't correspond to the angry little boy who grabs the cookies and breaks her doll. Max takes an immediate shine to Emma's friend Sally, who knows how to talk to four-year-olds, and over time Sally helps Emma learn how to be a big sister. Gradually (and skillfully), Little shows how both Max and Emma accept the new situation, all the while illustrating the difficult feelings experienced by all members of a family in the midst of the adoption transition. She works in quite a bit of information about the process, including mention of social-worker visits, transitional visits by the adoptee, and the purpose of foster families. Her understated dialogue and simple but effective plot incidents are the work of an accomplished pro who clearly has mastered the dictum of "show, don't tell." Appealing watercolor-and-ink illustrations by Plecas perfectly complement this longer I Can Read book, which is divided into short chapters for readers prepared for a more extended story that still uses controlled vocabulary. A first choice for most libraries and an excellent book to recommend to families with adopted or foster children. (Easy reader. 4-8)

Booklist Review

Gr. 1^-2. Heartfelt and honest, this entry in the I Can Read Book series tells an adoption story from the viewpoint of the older sibling, who has mixed-up feelings about having a new four-year-old brother. At first Emma looks forward to the day Max comes to visit with the social worker ("He will be little and sweet," she tells herself). But Lily next door has a younger brother, and she warns Emma that brothers can be yucky. When Max does start to visit and then moves in, Emma is bitterly disappointed, especially when he pushes her away and hangs onto her friend. Then, gradually, Emily begins to understand his terror and learns how to be his sister. Little's simple words and Plecas' clear, expressive line-and-watercolor illustrations tell an intense story that goes beyond direct messages to show both siblings' hurt, anger, and displacement and, finally, their bonding. An excellent book to introduce new readers to the idea that a good story can show many sides. --Hazel Rochman

Table of Contents

Emma's Big Newsp. 5
Max's Visitp. 15
Their Boyp. 29
Max Comes to Stayp. 37
Max's Sisterp. 47