I am a children’s book editor by day. One morning more than three years ago––when my son, Owen, was about a year old––my colleagues and I were looking at some picture book submissions in an editorial meeting. One manuscript we ultimately decided not to publish was a “new baby” story. It was well written, but it was a fairly typical story of an older sibling who disliked the new baby at first and ended up loving her in the end. I’m sure jealousy is a huge issue with some older siblings, and there’s a reason so many of these stories have been published through the years. But, I remember thinking at the time, haven’t we all heard that story? Aren’t there enough of them out there already?
At that point in my life, some of my friends were having second children, and none of them were having a jealousy problem. If anything, their biggest concern was making sure the older child didn’t smother the baby with too much love! I remember thinking that if I ever had another baby I would want to give Owen the benefit of the doubt. I didn’t want to assume he would be jealous of a new baby. So at the meeting, I asked why there weren’t more picture books that were just positive family stories celebrating big brothers and sisters. I said I wished Owen could have a book like that.
A fellow editor who also happened to be a new mom said, “You should write it.” So I did. And What a Good Big Brother! was born.
But as I well knew, the publishing process is slow, especially for a picture book. It took time to find the right illustrators (Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher are wonderful!) and for them to fit the book into their busy schedule. So now, more than three years later, I have a new baby girl. My daughter, Phoebe, will be exactly three months old on the day the book comes out. And thank goodness Owen is not the jealous type! He is as affectionate a big brother as I ever could have hoped for. He loves Phoebe and loves to help me out with her in any way he can. He may not be as perfect as the little boy in the story (I never had the main character, Cameron, from the book ever say, “Can I see her poop?”), but Owen definitely knows how to make his baby sister smile!