Anna Grossnickle Hines                                                                                     Home       Guide

The story behind
Big Like Me
by Anna Grossnickle Hines

One of the biggest events in a young child’s life is the addition of a younger sibling to the family.  Many books were available, most of them dealing with the jealousy, and feelings of the older child being misplaced.  But I started thinking about another issue that is sometimes a problem for preschoolers when a new baby comes.  For months the family has been preparing and everyone tells the child, "Soon you’ll have a new brother or sister to play with."  Then the baby comes, but is the new baby a playmate?  Not really.  Nor is it a toy or a pet.  The interaction in the beginning is pretty one-sided and limited.   The baby can’t talk, take anything the older child offers, doesn’t even smile for the first few weeks. What’s the big excitement?  When is this little crying wiggling thing going to be any real fun?

I had been playing with the ideas in my mind for a couple months, thinking about just how it happens that a new baby and preschool sibling would begin interacting, and how that interaction grows as the baby becomes more responsive and capable.  Then one day I was making the six and a half hour drive to visit my mother.  I was alone in the car and free to talk to myself and think about this story as I drove along the open interstate highway.  As the miles and hours passed, the story started taking shape.  What could the baby do at one month? Two months? Seven months?  I came up with the idea of going through the whole first year with a spread for each month, the perfect length for a picture book.  Starting with the birth in January I could bring in the changes in seasonal activities as well as the growing interaction of the child and baby.

By the time I got to my mother’s house I had the story pretty well developed—but only in my head.  I gave her hug, then grabbed an old envelope off her counter and jotted down notes so I’d remember what I’d come up with.  Back home I worked on the story until it took it’s final form.

Bethany was two years and nine months when Sarah was born, and very excited to have a new sister.  She never showed any jealous behavior directed at Sarah, but she did decide she’d rather not dress herself anymore.  I know that there are negative feelings and behaviors to deal with when a new sibling arrives, but I’ve left that to those other books that do it so well.  My story is a simple celebration of the first year with a new baby.  I hope it will help young children understand that the often very unexciting new addition will eventually grow into a fun person, and that the older sibling can feel proud of his or her responsibility of helping the new baby discover some of the important things in life.

I had a lot of fun doing the illustrations for this book.  Babies grow and change so fast—which is part of what makes them so much fun—but it also means that babyhood is over too fast.  I love to look back at my own children’s baby pictures and was happy to be able to use them for this book.

Here are Bethany and Sarah the day I brought Sarah home from the hospital. I flipped it to use on the cover of the book.
This is Lassen at one day old. I used this to help me draw the picture of the little boy greeting his new baby sister.
This is my grandfather's chair. When I was a  girl I sat in it to rock my little cousins and brothers and sisters. Grandpa died when Bethany was only a few weeks old, so I never got to rock any of my own babies in Grandpa's chair. It is now in my cousin's house. He sent me the pictures so I could put it in my book. 
In this picture Sarah is old enough to think Bethany is a pretty neat big sister.
I thought this picture of Lassen at six months was just right to use for the picture of the "wet doggie kiss".
Lassen is a couple months past her first birthday here. Some work was being done on our street and Lassen was fascinated by the backhoe. Everytime she'd hear it she'd shout, "Backhoe! Backhoe!" and run to the this window and climb onto the back of the sofa so she could see it go by. I used the photo in the November page in the book.
This book is very special to me. 
Though my children are all grown up, I will always have my babies in this book.

Published by Greenwillow, 1989


Accepting the presence of a new sibling is one of the many challenges a preschool child may face.  Hines's contribution to the crowded genre of adjustment-to-baby books takes an upbeat and positive approach.  Scenes that feature a pregnant mother and her happy young son yield to a month-by-month description of his interaction with the family's youngest member.  "Hello Baby, little tiny baby.  This is me.  I'm going to show you everything," he says in January to his newly arrived sibling and then proceeds to introduce the baby to the joys of each season - winter's snow and springtime's new trees, summer's wading pool and autumn's falling leaves.  The hallmark of their relationship is cooperation, and the boy is eager to share his parents' laps for bouncing games and stories as well as his own favorite toys and games of peek-a-boo.  Without a sign of a temper- tantrum or rivalry between the two children, this book presents an idealized and peaceful first year with a new baby.  The watercolor and colored-pencil illustrations have a gentle, cozy, and contented feeling which reinforces the mood of this distinctly useful book.
Ellen Fader, The Horn Book, September/October 1989

Baby sister has just arrived, and big brother is all set to show her the world.  "I’ll show you snow and listening to stories. . . ..[ ] I'll show you baby rattles and squeaky toys and my best teddy bear." Big brother's litany continues while page-top labels indicate the months passing as a newborn slowly changes into an older infant and finally a toddler celebrating her first birthday.  The illustrations, especially of the baby, are astute; Hines has an eye for pint-sized anatomy and the movements children often display.  Pastel colors and pale lines give the simple pictures a light, airy feel.  An affectionate and refreshingly positive celebration of a new infant. - Ages 3-5.
Denise Wilms, Booklist, October 1989

The cover of this book is no doubt a drawing from a photo in the author's family album: a 3- or 4-ish year-old big brother, sitting quietly, gingerly cradling a newborn baby in his lap, proud as can be, and probably making plans to be the best big brother in the world.  We have a photo exactly like it, with Elizabeth balancing newborn Evan on her 3-yr.-old lap, and you can practically read her thoughts: "I'm going to show this baby what the world's all about 'cause I'm the big sister and I already know!"  This book is the chronicle of a year's worth of being a big brother to an infant sister.  After the dedication page's illustration of a little boy with ear pressed against his pregnant mommy's belly, we see him, in January, offering the newborn his finger, which she squeezes, and telling her, "Hello Baby, little tiny baby.  This is me.  I'm going to show you everything." Through the, months of the year, he shows her what to do with some baby toys, how to sit on laps and take naps, the springtime leaves and caterpillars, how to play pat-a-cake, how to fill a cup in the wading pool, etc. His "lessons" are exactly what an older sibling of this age truly feels is useful information to a growing baby - and indeed it is!  Lucky is the infant who has a gentle, older sibling to show her the ropes!  As the baby grows throughout the year, her brother introduces her to progressively more complicated aspects of their world, finishing up with gallantly teaching her to blow out her birthday candle and open packages.  Each month is encompassed on a double-page spread. This is a sweet and loving book for a new sibling.  The colored pencil illustrations are realistic, with muted colors, perfectly complementing the feeling of familial support and togetherness. (2 1/2 - 5 yrs.)
Chinaberry Catalogue

This is the book to share with the child who has just become a brother or sister A new brother tells his baby sister all the things he wants to show her and the pages have months indicated on top as we watch them progress through the baby's first year.
Candace Lynch, Star News, Los Angeles, November 1989

"I'm going to show you everything," big brother says to his tiny new sibling. He is the perfect guide to the wonders of a child's first year. Ages 3-8
Gryphon House, 1990

Hines has a gift for depicting children in their natural habitats.  This book, however, lacks the verve that some of her other books possess (Daddy Makes the Best Spaghetti and Taste the Raindrops, among them).  Big Like Me presents the positive side of being an older sibling; the narrator tells his new sister all the things he plans to teach her: about listening to stories, playing hide-and-seek and so on.  On each page the siblings grow a little older, until the last page, which portrays a celebration of baby's first birthday.  The illustrations are beautifully natural in the mood they convey: it's nice to see the mother nursing the baby, for example, and carrying her in a front pack.  But the text is so rosy and uneventful that even the most enthusiastic older brother or sister is likely to be skeptical about such a future.  Ages 4-up.
Publishers Weekly, July 1989

A book that's sure to be popular with those looking for a book to ease the introduction of a new sibling into the family.  Whisper-soft pastel pencil drawings show the interactions between a newborn and her older brother throughout the baby's first year.  The pictures are framed and labeled with the appropriate month.  The backgrounds are kept simple to keep the emphasis on the two children.  The story is told from the perspective of the older child as he relates, sometimes in verse, how he will show the little one everything: "I'll show you laps and taking naps." Hines keeps the vocabulary appropriately simple for a young child.  As an illustrator, she has set herself the difficult task of showing the changing sizes and activities of a baby and young child month by month through the course of a year.  The drawings are not static presentations, but show a range of movements from crawling to bouncing on Mom's knee.  Some renderings are a bit off. but the whole is so enjoyable that they do not detract from the overall presentation. K-Gr2
Judith Gloyer, School Library Journal, December 1989

An reader from Port Lavaca, Texas , January 6, 1999
Great to give BIG SIBLING at the birth of LITTLE SIBLING!
My 19 month-old son was "reading" this book when we brought his new baby sister home from the hospital! He had memorized all the words because of the beautiful way Ms. Hines rhymed every line! The first thing we had to do was sit his little sister beside him on the couch so he could "read" it to her!! How excited he was to know he could teach her how "to fly, we'll touch the sky!" He still loves this book and he is 7!

An reader from Alabama , July 22, 1998
A wonderful book for new big brother or big sister!
This is a wonderful book for a new big brother or big sister. I bought the book when my second son was born. His big brother, only 2 at the time, loved feeling like he was a part of helping his new brother grow up to be big like him. Now that boy number 3 has arrived, my second son has enjoyed feeling like he can show baby how to do all those big guy things like him. It was also a help when we were preparing to have the new baby so he felt good about what to expect. It's a beautiful book, both to read and share with your children.

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