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Sunday, 21 May 2017


Author: Anthea Simmons
Illustrator: Georgie Birkett
Publisher: Andersen Press Ltd, 2010

This is my favourite picture book for preparing children for gaining a sibling. It's sweet, heartwarming and leaves me with a wry smile- everyone's happy, content siblings sharing all- what a dream!

So the story is a real repetitive mantra; little girl (preschool looking) has a number of possessions she loves, including a teddy, book of animals, number puzzle and snugly blanket, for each item, 'baby wants it too', and the reply on each page is, 'share' says mummy, cue to turn the page, 'so I do.' Following every incident of sharing, the baby messes up the item, have bent it, having chewed it, having 'soaked' it  'right through'. Expressions on the faces of the child and baby constantly change, with the baby upset, wanting the possession, becoming content or appeased when he has the item in his hands. The girl whereas, looks intent on keeping her possession or sceptical at handing it over, then annoyed with the baby's response to the item.    

The mantra then adjusts, with the little girl taking mummy's command to share literally, sharing her 'favourite treat for teatime', jam waffle, with baby, who, oh dear, 'has no teeth to chew.' The resulting sharing incident now, backfires each time on mum, with baby getting soggy after pouring milk from 'the cow mug' on himself, and paint chaos ensuing from sharing the easel. the big sister has an impish smile of her face in this section, with baby looking eager. 

The story then takes a final (cute) twist, with the siblings clearly enjoying sharing a bath, and their bedtime routine, and with baby now instigating the agreement to share. In the closing pages of the book the siblings are now 'laughing, laughing, laughing' together, and agree to share their mummy. It's a very happy (sugary yes!)  ending; my children love it and I like the sentiment and appreciate the subtle humour here. 
We've read this book so many times (being a family where a new sibling has arrived consecutively every two years) that the mantra is unbelievably well-ingrained, that the book has reached legendary status in our house and is now simply referred to as 'the share book' and gets suggested by the children for a book at bedtime if we've had a day of troubles, 'oh, mum, Alf is being mean- I think we need to get the share book out!' (like its a key reminder, a cure for all ills). 'Share says mummy!' has become my stern warning, constant reply, sarcastic response to all manner of sibling squabbles, nearly always receiving the same humorous reply, the children echoing (rather begrudgingly, despairingly) the other side of the mantra, 'so I do!' I've bought this book for countless friends who have had second or third babies. It feels like a rite of passage; pregnant for a second time? need this book!   

Leading on from that, and being an adopter myself, there's nothing in here that wouldn't work for introducing adopted siblings to each other too. The 'baby' in the book is conveniently toddler-like rather than a babe in arms (echoing a likely scenario of modern day adoption regarding age of placement). The mum doesn't look suitably frazzled though, and seems to waltz in happily for a cuddle with her perfectly clean and sleepy children at the end- again this raises a dry smile with me.   
In all then, illustrations bright, bold, simple, clear and tell a full story in themselves; lovely lyrical text, with plenty of exclamatory vex- so very tongue in cheek. A really great book for helping to prepare a child for an impending sibling arrival, or thereafter for simply encouraging sharing, and seeing the positive outcomes of a sharing sibling union.    

If you like this book, you're also likely to enjoy: When I First Met You Blue Kangaroo

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