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Sophie Peterman Tells the Truth! Hardcover – November 10, 2009
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From School Library Journal
Starred Review. PreSchool-Grade 2—In no uncertain terms, a girl warns readers about the perils of a new sibling. Looking like an alien at first, and the object of unwarranted praise and attention, a baby is prone to all manner of gross behaviors. Sophie reveals that the situation doesn't get better as the infant grows into a toddler (known as a "monster"): stealing Halloween candy, swallowing lucky marbles, and exhibiting general uninhibited behavior. She softens, though, when the monster begins to focus affection on her but leaves readers with a warning not to reveal this softness to parents lest they repeat the experience. Weeks has created a feisty, forthright protagonist who lays out the pros and cons of a new brother with delightful tongue-in-cheek detail. The ink and digitally colored illustrations and boldface words in the text perfectly catch the narrative nuances and enhance it with cheeky perspectives and funny touches. Older siblings will laugh at the younger child's antics and parents will chortle at Sophie's reactions and perspective in all her righteous truth telling.—Marge Loch-Wouters, La Crosse Public Library, WI
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"This is a familiar theme, but Weeks brings a snappy humor to her catalog of indignities, and older sibs in the audience will recognize and giggle at the truths...The illustrations, India-ink linework with a graininess that suggests black crayon and spaces filled with planes of digital color, have a robustness appropriate to determined little Sophie."--The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
Top customer reviews
Sara Weeks does a great job of poking fun at some of the antics of babies (disgusting ones included). Kids with baby siblings can certainly relate to some of the funny experiences Sophie Peterman has with her baby brother. One of my favorites is, "If you are taking a bath with a monster (a toddler) and you notice extra bubbles....GET OUT!"
Illustrator Robert Neubecker does an excellent job of bringing the text to life. My kids, ages 5 and 8, thought the illustrations of the gas bubbles in the tub and the leaky, dirty diapers were too funny.
Sophie Peterman Tells the Truth is a fun story to share with kids ages 4-8 who have little siblings at home. I think even the parents will get a good chuckle from this book!
Author of That Baby Woke Me Up, AGAIN
What could have been a lovely book for children was completely ruined by the inclusion of a page depicting a mother breastfeeding her child (the mother's back is to the reader, so no nudity is shown) with the statement that when baby eats, you don't want to look. Why?!!! Breastfeeding is natural. I don't want my children learning its gross. I will be RETURNING the book. Absolutely terrible and disgusting.
First, I think this book does wonderfully as a read-aloud book. Sometimes, I read a book out loud, and I stumble over the words, or the phrasing just doesn't flow. This book just reads very naturally, which I liked. The illustrations perfectly match the tone of the text, too.
The thing about this book is, you have to be aware of the target audience. I think this book will go over well for a child who is struggling to accept a younger sibling, a child who has already voiced their discontent. It is NOT a generic "Congratulations on being a big brother / sister!" book. If you are expecting a second child, or if you have already given birth to a second child, and your first child is happy about having a sibling and getting along well with the baby, then there is no need to pick up this book. There is no need to INTRODUCE them to the kind of thinking in this book.
But, if your older child seems to be getting jealous of all the attention showered on the new baby, or if he/she is getting upset because a crawling or walking baby is getting into and messing up his/her things, then this book will help to validate that child's feelings. Basically, Sophie Peterman, the narrator, lists off all her complaints about her baby brother. My daughter could easily relate to Sophie because she understands what Sophie is going through. My daughter was actually in love with her baby brother - until he began to crawl and walk, i.e., the same time he required more of my attention. She completely understood when Sophie said that when babies learn to walk, they become "MONSTERS!" I can imagine some parents might not appreciate that kind of language, but it works for us, because in our family, whenever a child is acting up or throwing a fit, we jokingly call the child a "MONSTER!!" The kids know it's all in fun, that we're not being mean-spirited.
In the end, Sophie realizes that her little brother is not so bad after all, and she really does like him. The message being, even though there are plenty of legitimate things to be annoyed about in regards to having a younger sibling, there are also a lot of really great things about having a younger sibling, too. You have to take the bad with the good, and the good makes it all worthwhile.
I do wish that the positive wrap-up at the end lasted a little longer. There were really only 2-3 pages in which Sophie described the good things about having a younger brother. After listing SO many negative things, it would have been nicer if she was able to list off just a few more positive things, to make it a bit more balanced.
Also, please be aware, this book does contain potty humor! I will be the first to admit that I can NOT stand scatological humor - in adults. But somehow, when it has to do with kids, and babies especially, talking about gas and poop and diapers in general just seems to go with the territory.
Finally, based on other reviews, there seems to be some concern about the book's attitude towards breastfeeding. At one point, Sophie says, "When babies eat - TRUST ME - you don't want to watch." The accompanying illustration shows a mother's back, the profile of her face (her eyes are closed, and she looks peaceful), a burp cloth over her right shoulder, and just the top of the baby's head cradled in her right arm. It also shows Sophie from the front, looking at her mother feeding the baby, her eyes wide open in disbelief, and both her hands up at her face. While it's not explicit that the mother is breastfeeding, I think that's a pretty good assumption. The issue one reviewer brought up is that Sophie's reaction makes breastfeeding seem unnatural, maybe even disturbing - certainly not the attitude I want to instill in my children about breastfeeding. Still, I think it's a good thing that the illustration and text seem to imply that the mother is breastfeeding - in this way, it is treating breastfeeding as the natural, normal way for a baby to be fed. So, I do have mixed feelings about that particular part of the book, but it's not a deal-breaker for me - I can easily use it as a springboard for a follow-up conversation about breastfeeding. In fact, more and more, as my daughter grows older, I am finding that it is impossible to find books that EXACTLY mirror my attitudes in parenting. More often than not, I use the questionable material in books to start discussions with my daughter about what is appropriate, what is "good behavior", etc. It's a good way to keep the communication channels open.
This could have been a fun story about getting a younger sibling, but alas, it was ruined. I will not be reading this to my older children, as I breastfeed their baby siblings and I don't want to put any shadow of a doubt at the normalcy of that.
Children learned to hate, to fear, to insult, because that's what they are taught.