Dogs Don't Eat Jam and Other Things Big Kids Know is a picture book by Sarah Tsiang written in the form of advice from a big sister to her new little brother. She tells him about the many skills that she's mastered in her five years or so (including training the parents), and offers him a look forward from lifting his head to walking and talking to heading off to kindergarten.
The text is simple and direct, from one sibling to another, and (together with the illustrations) is sometimes laugh-out-loud funny. Like this:
"You'll spend hours learning
how much cups can hold.
And how much they can't."
This text is accompanied by a picture of a small child determinedly pouring from a big container of water into a much smaller cup. Astute readers will know what's going to happen next.
Qin Leng's illustrations are cartoon-like (in a good way), with bright colors and plenty of kid-friendly details. For example, when the baby learns about "broccoli and cheese and yams", the floor is covered with spilled food, his face if gleefully dirty, and the dog is determinedly licking up a puddle. I also liked that the family has books everywhere, even when books aren't directly being discussed.
All in all, I found this to be a warm and likeable book. My only slight concern about it is in regards to the target audience. Although the story is written as though to a baby, this isn't a book for babies themselves. It's intended, of course, to be kind of an in-joke for the older siblings. However, on some level it's more a book that parents will enjoy than one for their children (even those older siblings). Certainly there were parts that I, as the parent of an 18 month old, could identify with (like the picture of a determinedly screaming baby waking sleep-fuddled parents). However, I do think that it will make a nice gift book for preschoolers and early elementary school kids who are expecting a new sibling. Dogs Don't Eat Jam is a funny, disarmingly true look at the early life of a young child. It's well worth a look.
Publisher: Annick Press (@AnnickPress)
Publication Date: June 2, 2011
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher
Nominated for 2011 Cybils in Fiction Picture Books by: Medea
© 2011 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).