When the new baby comes, what will happen to me? The question that often haunts the imaginations of expectant siblings is the subject of Robins Ballard's When I Am a Sister. With the steady rhythm of her text and her warm illustrations, Ballard allows us to listen as a child voices her fears about life with a new baby. The big-sister-to-be in Ballard's book is about to return home to her mama after another summer with Papa and stepmother Kate. Now that Kate is pregnant, this child wants to know what will be different when she returns next summer. Who will read to her at night? Where will she sleep? Will there still be room for her in the car? Sitting on either side of her, Papa and Kate reassure the child that though life will be different with the new baby, she too will be growing and changing. When she comes back she will be ready to have her own bedroom downstairs, ready to start reading to them, and, finally, she will be ready to be someone's sister. Comforted and ready for next summer, our big-sister-to-be, who can't wait to see her mama again, heads home. Each of the child's fears sharing a room with a crying baby, being left out of a family hug is depicted in a small gray and white illustration. In contrast, Papa's descriptions of the loving, inclusive, but very different future are painted in smooth watercolors that spill over two pages. Ballard's artwork, quiet and unobtrusive, gives a friendly feel with its use of rounded line and uncluttered space. Ballard continues to write and illustrate about important relationships for children and families such as moving, making friends, separation from a parent. Her books encourage readers as her characters encounter the same issues that knock at the doors of our own homes. Reviewed by Anna Claire Straughan.

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