Henry at Home by Megan Maynor
The love between a brother and sister shines through in this reassuring picture book about a common childhood transition—an older sibling starting school and leaving the younger one behind.
Liza is Henry’s big sister, and Henry is Liza’s little brother. As long as there has been a Henry and Liza, they have always done everything together. Haircuts, birthday parties, tree climbing, even flu shots. Liza and Henry. Henry and Liza. But that all changes when Liza starts school for the first time, heading off to kindergarten and leaving her little brother behind. Henry is incredulous. How can Liza do this to him?
This true-to-life picture book, gorgeously illustrated, explores a sweet sibling relationship and carries an important and reassuring message about family and growing up.
Change is hard for everyone sometimes.
I adored the warm and loving relationship between Henry and Liza. As well as being siblings, they were best friends who loved spending time together exploring the outdoors and making up imaginative games. They had a strong emotional bond, and it showed. Siblings having a wonderful time together is something I always love to find in picture books as it doesn’t seem to be as common as addressing sibling rivalry and other normal developmental stages of childhood that can bring conflict.
With that being said, there is something to be said for learning to enjoy time apart, too. I appreciated how gently the narrator approached the idea that Henry and Liza would both benefit from developing a few separate interests and friend groups. It was such a friendly way to encourage these characters to step out of their comfort zones while also acknowledging how lucky they were to get along so well.
The ending made me smile. Henry definitely didn’t appreciate being left at home while his sister started kindergarten, so it was interesting to see how his frustration and disappointment encouraged him to fill his time with new activities until she came back home again in the afternoon. Every emotion is valuable, even the difficult ones! Gentle stories are a great place to explore feelings that a kid might be reluctant to talk about, and there were plenty of opportunities here to do just that. While I can’t say much more about the ending without giving away spoilers, it was everything I was hoping it would be.
Henry at Home was perfect.