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