Top Secret Info for Big Brothers and Sisters

Illustrated by Mary Lundquist

Random House, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-37672-3

Greetings, Special Agent! You’ve accepted the mission: you’re going to be a big sibling! This is your super-secret guide to training your family’s newest recruit. There will be lots to do, like leading physical training (teaching your sibling to walk) and sharing intel (reading together), but we know you’re up for the challenge. Best of luck, Agent! This is HQ, signing off. Over and out!


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Publishers Weekly

"How do you defuse the emotional upheaval of a new baby’s arrival? Reframe it as a special ops assignment worthy of a Tom Cruise or Matt Damon vehicle. “Headquarters is about to get a brand-new recruit,” writes Hood (Rooting for You), and it’s up to the nascent older siblings to “train the new kid on the team.” Readers follow big brother and sisters in four families as they carry out 16 assignments, articulated in the no-nonsense cadence of a top agent’s briefing: “#7. Crack codes” accompanies a trip to the farm, where Lundquist’s (Cat & Bunny) winsome watercolors show an older brother explaining that “baaa = sheep” while “maaa = goat.” As the babies grow, the assignments become more collaborative; “#15. Go Undercover” finds a boy and his now-toddler sister on a surveillance exercise in their blanket fort. A recurring toy robot character is extraneous, but otherwise Hood and Lundquist carry off the conceit with sunny aplomb, complete with a genre-appropriate diaper joke: “Dad? In need of assistance here! Code name: Number Two!” Ages 3–7.

Kirkus Reviews

"A melding of quasi-military and spy jargon delivers a tongue-in-cheek instruction manual for new big brothers and sisters. None of the racially diverse older siblings depicted reacts with ambivalence or displeasure at their new roles; instead, text and art show how big brothers and sisters in four families adjust with aplomb to the babies who’ve entered their families. Narrative text introduces each task the siblings must complete on their “missions” to integrate the babies into their respective families and the world at large, while speech balloons indicate how they fulfill their duties. For example, the only named character fulfills task No. 8: “SET UP COMMUNICATIONS SYSTEMS” by telling his little sister, “Say ‘Mason!’ Can you say ‘Mason’?” Her speech-balloon response reads, “Dada goo ga goo,” and Mason’s nearby toy robot declares, “DOES NOT COMPUTE.” The humor of each clever scenario drives the book’s success and is nicely supported by Lundquist’s cartoonish art."

School Library Journal

"Written in guidebook format for “special agents” preparing to be new brothers or sisters, this book highlights 16 tasks for “training” a “new recruit.” Four different families appear in vignettes that illustrate what older siblings can do with babies, including showing family photos, playing games, and teaching words and sounds. Scenes depict the children not only helping out as the babies grow and learn, but also developing relationships along the way. A small, blue robot appears throughout, and while characters speak in word balloons with black text, the book is written in large capital block letters in different colors. The simple, minimalistic drawings feature rosy-cheeked children and adults, an abundance of white space, and fun samples of softly colored patterns and prints. Humor around dirty diapers will elicit giggles. There is some racial diversity in the characters, but only the young white boy is ever referred to by name. Some of the vocabulary, such as covert and credentials, suggests that readers share this book with adults who can help them apply meaning to the wordplay. A fun, entertaining resource for kids preparing to welcome a new baby."

–Whitney LeBlanc, Staten Island Academy, NY

"Little kids about to become big brothers or sisters are in for a treat with this humorous look at life with a new baby. A cheery robot presents a manila envelope with top-secret instructions and announces,“Congratulations! Headquarters is about to get a brand-new recruit. Your mission is to train the new kid on the team.” Soon-to-be-siblings in four diverse families undertake tasks to help Mom and Dad get ready. “Test gadgets and gear” means checking out the stroller (with the help of a teddy bear) and putting together a mobile, while “Set up communication systems” involves decoding a new baby’s wails and screeches. Warm, cartoonish watercolors illustrate the kids playing with their new baby siblings, holding them, and helping out around the house. Since most of the text is in speech bubbles and headings, this may work better as a one-on-one read. Pair with Sophie Blackall’s The Baby Tree (2014), which is similar in artistic style and color palette as well as in its gently humorous tone and depictions of diverse families."

Paula Willey

"Loving of a different kind, told from a very different perspective, is the subject of Mission: New Baby, which is an unusually creative big-sibling book. ...  Susan Hood and Mary Lundquist ... approach the subject with enthusiasm bordering on exuberance.  Hood’s writing takes young readers through all the stages of becoming older siblings, from “attend briefing” (with Lundquist showing ways in which parents tell children that a new baby is on the way), to “test gadgets and gear” (setting up a crib, making sure a stroller is ready for use), to “meet new recruit” (seeing the baby for the first time), and so forth. The mundane everyday needs of adapting to a new baby become intriguing and even exotic here: “Familiarize Subject with Headquarters” means showing the baby his or her room, while “Introduce Associates” means pointing out the cat, a stuffed animal and grandparents. ... The chaos associated with a new baby becomes more tolerable, and even endearing.  ... giving this book to a big-sibling-to-be, and reading (and re-reading) it along with him or her, is a great way to help de-stress the coming big event." For the full review, click here.