My Life Begins!
Patricia MacLachlan, Author
Daniel Miyares, Illustrations
Katherine Tegen Books, Fiction, Aug. 2, 2022
Suitable for ages: 8-12
Themes: Triplets, New siblings, Family relationships, Love
Jacob is nine years old when his life changes.
He wants a litter of puppies. But instead his parents have a different surprise. Jacob will be an older brother soon. And there won’t be only one new baby. There will be three! When the triplets are born, Jacob thinks puppies are cuter. The babies look identical to him and he gives them a name: “the Trips.”
For a school science project, Jacob decides to study the Trips. It feels like magic as they begin to smile, talk, and grow. Slowly, he gets to know each of them. They call his mother “Mama” and his father “Da.” But what will they call him? One day, one of the Trips calls him “Jay.”
As each of the triplets become unique and more special with each day, Jacob starts to wonder if “the Trips” is still a good name for them. They aren’t puppies, or a bunch of bananas, and they aren’t just “the Trips” anymore. What should he call them that will show what they mean to him? Can he figure out their “forever name?” And will he ever get a puppy?
From the celebrated author of Sarah, Plain and Tall, Patricia MacLachlan, comes another humorous and poignant early middle grade novel. My Life Begins! explores how life begins for Jacob when his triplet sisters are born, and how siblings get to know each other as time, and love, evolve.
Why I like My Life Begins!:
When I find a new novel written by master storyteller Patricia MacLachlan, I’m excited to curl up with what I know will be a touching and comforting book. With her signature style, MacLachlan conveys an intimate and loving family devoted to one another. The plot has little conflict and the pacing is perfect for readers.
When My Life Begins is a charming story about how Jacob’s life changes overnight with the birth of triplets in his family. Readers will follow Jacob’s adjustment from being an only child to a big brother. He calls them “the “Trips,” in the beginning as he seems to view them as “a group of something.” Jacob is a very sensitive and caring boy who helps his parents as their exhaustion grows and the girls become more active..
The prose is lyrical and spare for older elementary children. The chapters are short. The beautiful narrative is in Jacob’s voice and highlighted at the end of each chapter with Jacob’s poetic observations in a journal he calls “A Litter of Trips – From Birth On,” for a class research assignment. For example “They still look the same. / They cry and eat, wet their diapers, and sleep. / Nothing else. / Except – there’s Lizzies smile.” And as he begins to see their growing personalities:“My research shows Kath begcoming the “tough Trip” — a good nickname. / Char is the quiet, mellow one. / An Lizzie the “sweet, sly explorer,” as my mother puts it.”
The illustrations are warm, happy and affectionate and show how important family is for Jacob. This story is a sweet read aloud for families. It may inspire some interesting family discussions. It is also perfect for readers transitioning into middle grade books.
Patricia MacLachlan is the celebrated author of many timeless novels for young readers, including Newbery Medal winner Sarah, Plain and Tall; Word After Word After Word; Kindred Souls; The Truth of Me; The Poet’s Dog; My Father’s Words, and A Secret Shared. She is also the author of countless beloved picture books, a number of which she cowrote with her daughter, Emily. Patricia MacLachlan passed away on Mar. 31, 2022, before her book was published.
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*Reviewed from a library copy.