5 Books About Inspiring Older Siblings

As the oldest child in my family, I am pretty biased in my believe that eldest siblings rule. We came first, we work hard, and we look great doing it! Some of the most famous people in the world have been oldest siblings, and many of our favorite fictional characters also showed up first. Beyond Bill Weasley, Winston Churchill, and every actor who has ever played James Bond, check out these other utterly fantastic big brothers and sisters.

Smile and Sisters: The Box Set, by Raina Telgemeier
Fall in love with Raina, who handily tackles the many challenges life throws her way. In Smile, she suffers an injury to her mouth that forces her to wear braces and headgear and basically everything else in the orthodontic world. After overcoming that major life event, Sisters find her trying to embrace her new role as a big sister. In these funny and engaging graphic novels, Telgemeier recounts her feelings on becoming on older sister, and navigating the teenage years with style and aplomb. (Ages 8–12)

Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters, by Barack Obama and Loren Long
Malia and Sasha Obama are of course the nation’s current First Daughters, but they are also beautifully illustrated young ladies in this sweet book by President Obama. Malia and Sasha, like Jenna and Barbara, and Chelsea before them, have spent their formative years in a unique house that is unlike any other. Oldest sibling Malia has some pretty historic role models to help her set a good example for her younger sibling. (Ages 6–8)

I am George Washington (B&N Exclusive Edition), by Brad Meltzer and Christopher Eliopoulos
If you want to talk about awesome oldest kids, look no father than George Washington. You know, the General of the Union Army and, uh, the first President of the United States. He was the oldest of nine kids, including both full siblings and half siblings. Is it possible that leading this herd of kids around Ferry Farm in Stafford County near Fredericksburg, and later the famous Mount Vernon, helped shape him into the world-changing leader that we all know and love? I’m going to say yes. (Ages 5–8)

The Tale of Peter Rabbit: A Story Board Book, by Beatrix Potter
Peter Rabbit is the leader of this gang of mischievous bunny rabbits as they snatch vegetables from Mr. McGregor’s garden. He might not set the best example, seeing as he steals food and and loses his jacket. But, he is brave! Peter also learns his lesson, and he takes his lumps with a strong upper lip and a sense of pride. Like all good older kids, Peter helps to take care of his mom, is proud of their house and garden, and turns into a loving uncle to his nieces and nephews. (Ages 2–5)

Frozen Little Golden Book (Disney Frozen), by RH Disney
Queen Elsa. Queen. Yup, this oldest sister is queen of an entire kingdom — no mere princess here! She has an unbelievable magical power, and is able to inspire her younger sister’s great bravery and unfailing love. In true oldest sibling form, Elsa doesn’t let either guilt or being ostracized because she is different stop her from going after her dreams. With her inner strength and dignity, not to mention a fabulous dress and killer vocals, Elsa is an older sister like no other. (Ages 2–5)

Finding Dory Little Golden Book (Disney/Pixar Finding Dory), by RH Disney
This may be one of the biggest literary mysteries of our day: Is Dory the oldest, the middle, or the youngest in what is probably a very large family? Dory is brave, take charge, and caring, so maybe she is indeed the oldest sibling. She will also gladly follow Marlin into any adventure, so she could also be the middle child. Then again, she does love a good caring shoulder, some help from her friends, and has a thirst to prove herself — youngest sibling anyone? No matter where she lies in the family, we love Dory (but my vote is for oldest!). (Ages 2–5)

Who are your favorite oldest sibling characters?

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The Kingdom Keepers: The Return Series Continues with Legacy of Secrets

Ridley Pearson’s wildly popular Kingdom Keepers series is the story of five teenagers chosen to be Disney theme park “guides”, who discover that the gig is a lot more dangerous than expected; they soon find themselves battling against Disney’s own villains and witches to save the Magic Kingdom from destruction. The final book in that series saw them triumph against all odds, but every terrific series calls for an encore, does it not? The Kingdom Keepers: The Return series is the offshoot fans have been begging for, and it offers the brilliant twist of sending the original cast of characters back in time — to opening day of Disneyland, circa 1955! Featuring a genius premise and a perfect mixture of science fiction, history, magic, Disney trivia, and adventure, this middle grade romp is as tough to put down as a delicious raspberry Mickey Macaron.
The first book in the spinoff series, Disney Lands, was filled with riddles and puzzles, and ended on a nail-biting cliffhanger; luckily for us the second book, Legacy of Secrets, jumps in at full speed right where we left off. Our original five Kingdom Keepers friends (Finn, Charlene, Willa, Maybeck, and Philby) are continuing to follow clues left behind by their mentor, Wayne, which will hopefully help them protect the future of Disneyland. At the same time, unofficial Kingdom Keepers and Fairlies Jess and Amanda (Fairlies are humans with unusual abilities, but they are still “fairly” human, zing!) have their own dark and dangerous backstory returning to haunt them as they try to help the Keepers solve the mystery from their position within Disney’s School of Imagineering, in current-day 2016. Believing that the Overtakers they (presumably) defeated during the first series are gone, the Keepers try to keep the opening week of Disneyland safe, while hunting out the source of Walt Disney’s magic. Along the way they stumble onto the Legacy of Secrets, as well as a real life, flesh and blood villain who may do more than throw a hitch into Walt’s opening ceremonies.
In a succession of short chapters that keep the action always at the forefront, readers race alongside the characters to solve a series of clues woven into Disney history. As they zip from the fabled Lilly Belle train car, to Walt’s backyard, to deep in the rare books room at the Los Angeles County Library, and across more than 60 years of time and space, fans will find themselves absorbed in the magic and engaged by the mystery. Impressively, throughout all of the talk of technology and time travel, the book stays grounded; rooted as it is by characters that grow and change — people you care about and root for no matter what year it is.
Of course, the second book leaves us with nearly as many questions and cliffhangers as the first. Still, it answers many of the questions from Disney Lands, and reveals surprising facts from the original series, which will delight longtime fans. The real strength of Legacy of Secrets is the suspense that doesn’t let up. Each clue opens more avenues for exploration, and everything that you think you know about Disney is called into question. As a bonus, the Barnes & Noble Exclusive edition comes with a map that helps you navigate Disneyland circa 1955 (it would also look terrific in a frame for any Disneyland fan!), which is surprisingly different from the park we know and love today.
Fans of the series won’t be able to put this installment down, Disney lovers will adore the journey into Disneyland’s origin, and anyone who loves a good mystery will be engrossed.
Legacy of Secrets is in stores March 29.
Originally published at http://www.barnesandnoble.com on March 25, 2016.

7 Children’s Book Characters Who Would Make Terrible Coworkers

The working world isn’t that different from the worlds within children’s books. There are plenty of nice people; those you can relate to and enjoy spending time with. Then there are those guys. Every office (and story) has a few of them — from the one who eats all the candy-dish candy, to the one who rolls in late and leaves early, to the well-meaning elder statesman who can fill an entire day with his stories. You may have a soft spot for some of them, but when you’re facing a tough work deadline you won’t want to have to rely on any of these shady characters.

Spot (Put Me in the Zoo, by Robert Lopshire)

 Spot is the ultimate anywhere-but-here guy. He thinks he deserves the promotion, the better office, that last donut. You just know he’s at his desk checking out Monster Jobs when he should be working on that project your team has due before lunch. Sure, maybe he’s right, maybe he is special, maybe he does deserve something more, but maybe he should try putting in a day’s honest work now and then (and stop taking your parking spot). You can’t help but like Spot, but you also like not being the one stuck putting together his PowerPoint slides when you should have gone home an hour ago. (Ages 5–8)

Curious George (A Treasury of Curious George, by H. A. Rey and Margret Rey)

 Sure, George is a nice guy, and he really does try to get the job done for the team, but dude also likes to go rogue. There is an employee handbook for a reason, but it’s as if George has never taken the time to read it (sometimes you wonder if he can read at all)! Still, he always gets results, and the bosses seem to like his unique thought process and gung-ho attitude. But for the rest of the office, who spends their days filling out his TPS Reports and showing up on time, George isn’t the spunky guy with the out of the box ideas, he’s the guy eats all the snacks in the break room and strolls in late with all the answers. (Ages 0–3)

Max (Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak)

 If Max doesn’t get his way, he stops contributing during your weekly brainstorming sessions. His temper tantrums at the water cooler and his reluctance to ever go out to lunch with the group have made him the office loner. When Max does take the lead on a project, he has no problem ruling with an iron fist; the phrase “benevolent dictator” was made for someone just like Max. Things may run smoothly when he’s is at the helm, and one day he will probably make a great CEO, but when things go off the rails he is the first to bow out and sail off into the sunset. Secretly you hope Max gets promoted to another department, where you won’t have to deal with his attitude or listen to him brag about how he’s helping a buddy redo his Night Kitchen. (Ages 3–5)

The Very Hungry Caterpillar (The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle)

 Is this guy never not on a lunch break!? If he’s not in the break room pilfering someone’s sandwich, snacking on the granola bars from the community basket, or swinging by your desk to eat all of your good candy, he is asking where everyone wants to eat. Every morning the Caterpillar shows up with his breakfast, which he eats loudly at his desk, and he keeps a bag of chips in his bottom drawer to snack on all afternoon. Behind the apple cores and strawberry tops he does somehow get something done, but people mostly like him because he is the first one to yell out that it is Taco Tuesday. The only way you can get him to come to a meeting is if you promise pizza, and then he always scarfs down way more than his fair share, and everyone notices. (Ages 3–5)

Owl (The Complete Tales of Winnie-the-Pooh, by A. A. Milne and Ernest H. Shepard)

 Owl is experienced; he’s the oldest guy in any room. He seems to have connections all over the industry, and he has met his fair share of famous faces. When management brought in the new boss, Owl revealedd that he used to ski with “that young woman’s father.” You try to be nice to Owl, and often times you are impressed — maybe even jealous — of his stories. But when he tells you about his well-regarded Great Uncle So-and-So for the hundredth time, you just want to hide behind the copier. Still, Owl is a fine fellow much of the time, so you will be the first one who offers to pick up the cake for his retirement party. (Ages 8–12)

Flash the sloth (Zootopia Read-Along Storybook & CD), by Disney Book Group and Disney Storybook Art Team)

 Flash Flash Hundred Yard Dash may be great for a laugh (What do you call a three humped camel?), but the only thing he does quickly is bolt for the door at the end of the day. No email is every responded to in a timely manner, and schedules and deadlines seem more like suggestions than mandates. Flash knows he isn’t quick, so he takes his criticism in stride, but he also does nothing to pick up the pace. Sometimes his leisureliness seems admirable, and it might make him the most thorough guy on any project, but when time is of the essence, you don’t want him on your team. (Ages 6–8)

Minecraft Zombie (Diary of a Minecraft Zombie Book 1: A Scare of a Dare, by Herobrine Books)

 This guy is just begging to be let go, and everyone in the office knows it. Every Monday he drags his feet in the door, wearing what looks to be Friday’s clothes. He takes the phrase “business casual” to the most extreme level, and has never bothered to personalize his space. His Facebook page is jam packed with photos from all of his nightly party antics, so it isn’t surprising that he has been caught sleeping next to the fax machine. You’re not even sure what his name is, since he never comes to staff meetings, has never been assigned a project, and has no interest in group trivia nights at the local pizza place. All and all he isn’t a bad guy, since he has no responsibilities, but it is a shame he get the same paycheck as everyone else. (Ages 6–12)

What literary characters do you think would make horrible coworkers?

Originally published at www.barnesandnoble.com on March 17, 2016.