Book Review: I’m Brown and My Sister Isn’t

Families are often advised to begin talking about adoption while a child is very young, even before he can understand the words, so that the child will grow up seeing adoption as a normal way for a family to form. Recent years have brought many children’s picture books on adoption, but it’s still a difficult topic to convey to toddlers and preschoolers.

A book which speaks very simply about adoption and the diverse families it creates is I’m Brown and My Sister Isn’t, by Robbie O’Shea, who is herself a mother of two adopted children who have different skin colors. It’s a very simple, easy-reader book with one or two sentences in large type on each page. Full-page illustrations on the facing page are brightly colored and simple, but humorous too.

The book begins with the title declaration by a young boy with dark skin. The first illustration shows the siblings lifting their glasses to each other in “cheers” fashion. (One sibling is drinking chocolate milk, one white milk.) The boy goes on to list similarities between himself and his sister: they are both adopted, they both go to school, they both have lots of friends, they both like beach vacations (although one gets more tan and one must use a wide-brimmed hat to avoid sunburn).

Differences the narrator points out are: she’s a girl and he’s a boy, and she likes dollhouses while he likes trucks.

I like this book because similarities and differences are presented in a matter-of-fact way and with each characteristic of equal worth.

I have a small disagreement with the ending statement in the book, though. I would not have written, “Our family is special for many reasons, but mostly because I’m brown and my sister isn’t!” I think the diversity is a wonderful thing about a family, but I believe the most special things about families are their love and their everyday lives together.

Please see these related blogs:

Book Review: Is That Your SISTER? A True Story of Adoption

Book Review: Adoption Stories for Young Children

Other Kids’ Reactions to My Adopted Kids’ Skin Color

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About Pam Connell

Pam Connell is a mother of three by both birth and adoption. She has worked in education, child care, social services, ministry and journalism. She resides near Seattle with her husband Charles and their three children. Pam is currently primarily a Stay-at-Home-Mom to Patrick, age 8, who was born to her; Meg, age 6, and Regina, age 3, who are biological half-sisters adopted from Korea. She also teaches preschoolers twice a week and does some writing. Her activities include volunteer work at school, church, Cub Scouts and a local Birth to Three Early Intervention Program. Her hobbies include reading, writing, travel, camping, walking in the woods, swimming and scrapbooking. Pam is a graduate of Seattle University and Gonzaga University. Her fields of study included journalism, religious education/pastoral ministry, political science and management. She served as a writer and editor of the college weekly newspaper and has been Program Coordinator of a Family Resource Center and Family Literacy Program, Volunteer Coordinator at a church, Religion Teacher, Preschool Teacher, Youth Ministry Coordinator, Camp Counselor and Nanny. Pam is an avid reader and continuing student in the areas of education, child development, adoption and public policy. She is eager to share her experiences as a mother by birth and by international adoption, as a mother of three kids of different learning styles and personalities, as a mother of kids of different races, and most of all as a mom of three wonderful kids!