Through the eyes of the brother, we find out how they are both very different, but also very similar in other ways, and come what may they have lots of fun together and love each other just the same. This is a touching book that will strike a chord with every family with siblings, especially where one is differently abled.
Reviewed by Mary Roche
Me and My Sister is the fantastic debut book from Rose Robbins! This is a very assured handling of a difficult topic – differently-abled siblings. In this case, a little ‘boy’ narrates how he and his sister negotiate the world in their very different ways. He is the ‘responsible’ sibling, and his sister appears to be on the Autism Spectrum. We don’t learn the sibling’s names, but we are in no doubt about their different personalities. She doesn’t like hugs so they ‘high-five instead’. His sister is nonverbal yet communicates fairly clearly with her brother – although he doesn’t always understand her motives.
This is a book that will provide solace to readers who experience the difficulties of dealing with a differently-abled sibling. In addition, it provides a pathway for adults to discuss neurodiversity with young children. Finally, it encourages empathy in readers: empathy towards those who see and experience the world through the lens of autism, and empathy towards young siblings who must learn tolerance and acceptance.
Robbins’ illustrations are very appealing. There is a great use of a lively and bold line. She has used strong colours and black outlines and white space to great effect. The little girl’s starry dress pattern is picked up in the endpapers and front matter. One striking double-page spread shows some people at a bus stop watching as the siblings pass by. Their expressions display prejudice towards the little girl’s behaviour. While her brother’s embarrassment is obvious, the text simply states: ‘Strangers don’t always see her the way I do.’
This book is a must-have for classrooms. The focus throughout is on love and understanding.