Rebecca Elliott writes and paints beautifully about her own two children: Clemmie, who is disabled, and her younger brother, Toby, who thinks Clemmie is ‘the best sister’. When Clemmie must go to hospital, which often happens because of her disability, Toby comes along too, and together they turn the experience into a magical time. Her bed becomes a boat for sailing to ‘distant lands’, they become doctors to help the ward teddy, and Toby gets to eat Clemmie’s food because she is fed through ‘a magic belly tube’. While Toby plays in the playroom with all the toys, Clemmie watches and ‘looks pretty’. Toby knows that sometimes Clemmie is very ill and that worries him. But she is the strong one who holds his hand and makes him feel better. When Clemmie comes home, Toby throws a party for her, and they fall asleep together with Toby knowing that he loves his sister ‘not just sometimes. All times.’ This is the second picture book Rebecca Elliott has produced about her children, and it is a great joy to meet them once again. Her illustrations are full of love and liveliness, fun and acceptance, and the wonderfully messy backgrounds that children always seem to bring. Toby’s imagination throws up giant animals, huge cupcakes in stacks, and ocean waves dancing about Clemmie’s bed, and Clemmie looks on happily at his antics. Sibling love could hardly be more apparent, and while there is a certain amount of poignancy in the story, there is also great dignity in the two children and their approach to each other. A very special picture book.
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