A Space for Me

By The Horn Book

“It’s not fair," begins this relatable picture book narrated by Alex, big sibling to—and room-sharer with—pesky little brother Lucas. Lucas invades Alex’s space (so delineated by the classic “tape across the floor” method); takes his brother’s stuff; and makes too much noise. When things become intolerable, Alex heads outside—and comes up with a plan to carve out his own space in the family’s backyard. Big sister Emma helps; and when Lucas inevitably feels left out, Alex finds it in himself to include his little brother, knowing that it’s on his own terms. Refreshingly, the sibs solve the problem on their own, without grownups to complicate things. Falwell’s textured cut-paper-collage illustrations are cheerfully cluttered and childlike, the kids’ shared bedroom littered with toys, games, and puzzle pieces. Alex’s expressive body-language says it all, from the arms-crossed, not-fair stance at the beginning to relaxed ease after he’s been able to smooth over his brother’s hurt feelings. Their relationship doesn’t magically turn perfect; near the end, we see Alex, looking annoyed but resigned, reading and wearing headphones under the covers while Lucas strums a guitar—on Alex’s side of the tape. Pesky siblings will be pesky siblings—but the final page-turn shows they can be welcome playmates, too.