The Best Worst Brother — National Down Syndrome Awareness Month

The Best Worst Brother is written by Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen, illustrated by Charlotte Fremaux and published by Woodbine  House for children 4-8 years.  It is a very realistic portrayal of how a sibling deals with her feelings about her brother who has Down Syndrome (DS).   The author’s text is simple, and is complimented by the illustrator’s lovely pastel paintings, which give a sense of tenderness to the story.  What I especially like is the fact that no where in the story is Emma’s brother labeled as having Down Syndrome — he is just different.  So the book has a more universal appeal.

Emma feels that her brother is the worst brother.  She liked Isaac better when he was a baby when she could cuddle and love him.  Now that he is older, she feels frustration and confusion.  As a baby, Emma has fun feeding Isaac  and  makes funny airplane sounds as she flies the spoon into his open mouth.  Now, he spits out his food and throws it everywhere.  Emma likes to make funny faces and watches Isaac giggle with glee.  Now that he is older, playing with Isaac has become a battleground.  Emma is impatient with Isaac’s slow motor and speech development, which is a common sibling response.   Emma and her parents learn sign language, but progress is slow and Emma is frustrated.   It isn’t until Isaac attends Emma’s open house at school, that  she realizes  he’s learning what she is teaching him.  When her teacher approaches Isaac with a plate of cookies he signs “please” and “thank you.”   Emma is so proud and decides that her brother is a keeper.   Sign language is often used with children with special needs like DS.  There is a Question and Answer section at the end of the book.

October marks the 30th anniversary of the National Down Syndrome Society’s awareness month.  For information please check out their website.

Woodbine House is holding a contest for talented  teen/adult writers and artists  with Down Syndrome  Woodbine House says that “many teens and adults with DS are incredibly talented and don’t always receive the recognition they deserve.”   Winners will receive an award and have the opportunity to see their work published in a high quality, full-color book.

Participants must be over 12 years of age, residents of the U.S., Canada or Mexico.  Entries may be submitted in many different categories that include fiction writing, poetry, song lyrics, cartoons, painting, sculptures, embroidery, weaving and other mediums.     For details on contest submission go to    The deadline for entries is Dec. 31, 2011.

If you are a parent, teacher or an interested teen/adult with DS, please pass along the contest formation.

I became familiar with Woodbine House after reviewing a special series of books titled Off We Go! last April, and most recently The Best Worst Brother.   I discovered that Woodbine House is a leading publisher of books for children with special needs.  Many of their employees have a personal connection to someone with special needs — a winning combination for all involved.  You can view their books for children, parents, teachers and professionals at:

Copyright (c) 2011,  Patricia Howe Tilton, All Rights Reserved


About Patricia Tiltonhttps://childrensbooksheal.wordpress.comI want "Children's Books Heal" to be a resource for parents, grandparents, teachers and school counselors. My goal is to share books on a wide range of topics that have a healing impact on children who are facing challenges in their lives. If you are looking for good books on grief, autism, visual and hearing impairments, special needs, diversity, bullying, military families and social justice issues, you've come to the right place. I also share books that encourage art, imagination and creativity. I am always searching for those special gems to share with you. If you have a suggestion, please let me know.

17 thoughts on “The Best Worst Brother — National Down Syndrome Awareness Month

  1. Wow, this is a very engaging and informative post. I connected immediately with Emma, having a brother myself 12 years younger I loved, feeding, playing and looking after him, much the same way Emma does, when they grow and become their own person things do change. (He does not have DS though). I love how this story does not make DS its main focus, rather the joy of achieving each new goal, no matter how small, is to be celebrated and patience, love and loyalty wins every time. What a lovely post for the DS Awareness month. Woodbine House sounds like an interesting publishing house worth a closer inspection Pat. Thankyou for sharing, a lovely review.


    • Thanks Diane. This book could be any brother/sister relationship. Although this one is a little more comples. The author did a nice job of showing that the Isaac was just different. Glad you enjoyed the book. I was happy Woodbine House had some books on Down Syndrome, because I wanted to plug their writing and art contest again for talented teens and adults with DS.


  2. What an amazing post and a wonderful book. It is great to know about the contest too. That sounds fabulous. I am so glad you shared this. I think I need to send a tweet out about it and share on FB. It is definitely worth the attention. 🙂


    • Thank you so much Abby — please lift any information you like about the contest. I did a post on it in August, then decided to combine it with a review. There are so many teens and adults that are talented writers and artists. It is a real opportunity for individuals with down syndrome to get their work published. Thank you so much. I was hoping I could get other bloggers to pass along the information.



  3. Great competition to promote, Pat!

    I like the author’s choice of never using the words down syndrome in the text and thus creating a story with universal as well as very specific appeal. Great review.


    • Thank you so much Ruth. I appreciate your comments. My blog doesn’t lend itself towards much chatting, but I really wanted to highlight good books for parents and children with special needs, like Down Syndrome. I’m particularly excited about the writing and art contest for teens/adults with DS. There is a lot of talent out there. Thanks for stopping by. – Pat


  4. Say Pat—sorry I don’t write often (or at all) but I just returned from a Christian School Educators conference and went to a sectional on children’s books. Here is another book called I’m Here by Peter Reynolds. Let me know what you think!!


    • Such a nice surprise to see you show up on my blog. Thank you so much for recommending the book, I haven’t heard of it. Will check it out right away. I have so many people interested in books for children about autism, ADHD, and the military. Will be running another review at the end of Sept on a middle grade book. And, I just publised a review on two books in September by Beverly Brenna called “Wild Orchid” and “Waiting for No One.’

      Since you are a teacher, I hope you may be able to pass along the information about the writing and artist contest for teens and adults with down syndrome, sponsored by Woodbine Press. The details are at the end of the blog you responded to. It is a wonderful opportunity to showcase the talent of those with DW in a book.



    • Thanks Beth. You would enjoy this book. I do a lot of research, and I get book recommendations from teachers and others too. I really want news to get out about the art and writer contest for teens and adults with down syndrome. There is a lot of talent out there. It is such an opportunity for those who are selected to see their work published in a book. — Pat


  5. I had no idea this was National DS Month! This book sounds wonderful–I love the fact that they just described the brother as different, instead of labeling him. I’m excited to read this one!


    • Carla, Thank you so much for stopping by. It’s a good book. I was reviewing it so that I could promote Woodbine House’s writing and art contest for teens and adults with down syndrome. We have a center in Dayton called My Care Arts, that has a wonderful group of gifted artists who sell their work at the center. This contest is such an opportunity for artists and writers to showcase their work in a book that will be published. You can tell I get excited.

      Tomorrow I’m running an author interview with Rukhsana Khan, and her award-winning book “Wanting Mor.” Hope you stop back.


    • Thanks Maeve! Glad you liked the book. If you know any families with teens/adults with down syndrome, please pass along the information about Woodbine House’s writing and art contest. It’s a wonderful opportunity to get published.

      Tomorrow I’m doing an author interview with Rukhsana Khan, and her award-winning book, “Wanting Mor,” about a girl growing up in Afghanistan. Hope you have time to stop by. — Patricia


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