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Children's Fiction Siblings

Book of Big Brothers

by (author) Cary Fagan

illustrated by Luc Melanson

Groundwood Books Ltd
Initial publish date
Sep 2010
Siblings, Boys & Men, Humorous Stories
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2010
    List Price

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Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 4 to 7
  • Grade: p to 2
  • Reading age: 4 to 7


What is it like being the youngest of three brothers? In this wonderful story author Cary Fagan gives us a true-to-life picture of growing up in such a family -- from the adventure and fun to the mischief and mishaps. The brothers camp out in the backyard, accidentally set the neighbor's tree on fire, play football in the living room and even hold a funeral for their pet lizard. And although the older brothers can be mean sometimes, the youngest is usually in on the fun and delights in their crazy life together. Luc Melanson's lively retro-style illustrations are a perfect complement, making this an utterly captivating story.

About the authors

Cary Fagan is the author of eight previous novels and five books of short stories, including The Student, Great Adventures for the Faint of Heart, and A Bird's Eye. He has been nominated for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the Writers' Trust Fiction Award, the Governor General's Literary Award for Fiction, and has won the Toronto Book Award and the Canadian Jewish Book Award for Fiction. He is also an acclaimed writer of books for children, having won the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award, the IODE Jean Throop Book Award, a Mr. Christie Silver Medal, the Joan Betty Stuchner—Oy Vey!—Funniest Children's Book Award, and the Vicky Metcalf Award for Literature for Young People. Fagan's work has been translated into French, Italian, German, Dutch, Spanish, Catalan, Turkish, Russian, Polish, Chinese, Korean and Persian. He still lives in his hometown of Toronto.

Cary Fagan's profile page

Luc Melanson won the Governor General’s Award (Illustration) for The Grand Journey of Mr. Man by Gilles Tibo, and he was a finalist for the Governor General’s Award (Illustration) for My Great Big Mamma by Olivier Ka, Les Compositeurs by Claudio Ricignuolo and La petite Kim by Kim Yaroshevskaya. He has illustrated many books, including Book of Big Brothers by Cary Fagan, and Pink by Nan Gregory, both finalists for the Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Illustrator’s Award. Pink was a finalist for the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award and the Christie Harris Illustrated Children’s Literature Prize. Luc lives in Laval, Quebec.

Luc Melanson's profile page


  • Short-listed, Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Illustrator's Award Honour Book

Editorial Reviews action-packed tale of mischief and mayhem.

The Waterloo Record

...will make readers giggle with delight.


...the adventures...all serve to highlight the deep bonds of affection among the three boys.

Quill & Quire

...recounts the mischief and mishaps of being the youngest of three brothers...

Calgary Sun

Reading this book is a lot like listening to a friend and his brothers swap favorite family stories.

PW paced adventurous book about growing up together and learning to get along.

The Midwest Review

Librarian Reviews

Book of Big Brothers

Cary Fagan’s The Book of Big Brothers, written in first person narrative, engages readers of all ages. The concept of a memory becoming a story is a gift often shared over generations among families. Through recollecting the action-packed adventures of the brothers’ camp outs in the backyard or “riding a bike to the Rockies” with two older brothers, Fagan epitomizes his tales of brotherly love in the legendary escapade of lighting a tree on fire in their backyard. The brothers quarrel, share, tease and torment each other. Awardwinning Luc Melanson’s colourful illustrations magically capture their facial expressions and non-stop action. Imagine the repercussions of breaking an heirloom while playing forbidden living room football; such incidents beget the brotherhood of silence and collusion, and reinforce the age old code of “No one tells mother!” Cary Fagan read from draft pages at Queenston School during TD Canadian Children’s Book Week 2008. Spontaneous laughter and grins erupted as Cary’s personal recollections of growing up the youngest of three brothers caused the children and their teachers to nod or high five in sympathy and understanding. As an introduc- tion to a writer’s workshop for adults or to stimulate the telling of “family” stories in a classroom, this book is a winner!

Another excellent first person narrative by Fagan, The Big Swim, for pre-adolescent readers, explores a first-time camper’s painful but memorable experiences set forth in the main character, Ethan. “We knew he was a bad kid even before he showed up,” Ethan states upon the arrival of mysterious Zachary. Ethan offers Zachary his friendship, but Zachary manages to cause mayhem for both the camp and Ethan when he rebels against Camp White Birch rules, particularly regarding “The Big Swim.” Caught between his desire to do the right and honourable thing, and still follow the rules, Ethan finds that camp allows him to grow in many different ways. As a read-aloud story before the end of school in June or part of a book display encouraging summer reading, Fagan’s book will entice youngsters to try a camp experience for themselves!

Ellen Donogh is a teacher-librarian at Queenston School and Luxton School in Winnipeg.

Source: The Canadian Children's Bookcentre. Fall 2010. Volume 33 No. 4.

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Other titles by Luc Melanson

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