My Brother Is Away

In this moving picture book, a young girl reflects on the emotions and challenges of growing up with a brother who is incarcerated. This touching story is filled with vivid illustrations and is based on the author’s childhood experiences.

With her older brother in prison, a young girl copes with the confusing feelings his absence creates. At times she remembers the way her brother would carry her on his shoulders or how he would make up stories to tell her at bedtime. Other times she feels angry and wants to fly so far away that she can forget what happened.

When her Mama and Daddy take her on the 500-mile journey to visit him, a trip she knows not all families are able to make, the girl is excited but also nervous. But the nerves turn to joy when she sees him—everything is different, but everything is the same too. Her brother is not home, but his love hasn’t changed.  

With words that are spare, gentle, and reassuring, this picture book will help young readers with similar stories feel less alone and give other readers a window into the struggles some children face.

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What People Are Saying

“My Brother is Away reminds readers that, for every person who is incarcerated, there is also a family and a community whose lives have also been changed—and it reaches out with comfort and acceptance to the littlest ones who are witnessing and living those stories.”
— BookPage, starred review
“This empathetic book addresses a topic that’s relevant to a significant number of children yet rarely covered in children’s books.” 
— Booklist, starred review
“An accessible, validating narrative about the impact of incarceration within families.”
— Kirkus Reviews
“A gentle and hopeful story for kids about very adult situations and complex feelings.”
 — Juanita Giles, executive director of the Virginia Children’s Book Festival
“A quiet, deeply felt story that leaves space for children to connect and fill in blanks in ways that work for them. [A] much-needed picture book.”
— Cooperative Children’s Book Center
“A necessary picture book that will tug at heartstrings, inspire empathy, and fill an important gap in children’s literature. This quiet, powerful book belongs in every collection serving children.”
— School Library Journal, starred review

Awards & Accolades

NPR’s Books We Love list 2022

2023 Charlotte Huck Honor Book

for Outstanding Fiction for Children

2023 Charlotte Zolotow Honor Book

for best picture book text published in the United States 

2023 Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC) Choices Book

2023 Bank Street College of Education Best Children’s Books of the Year Book

About the Author

SARA GREENWOOD hopes her stories help children feel seen and heard. She wants them to know their emotions count and their experiences matter. Sara is a former teacher who lives with her family in New Mexico.

About the Illustrator

LUISA URIBE is the illustrator of Areli is a Dreamer, which has received two starred reviews from Kirkus and Booklist. She was awarded the Society of Illustrators Dilys Evans Founder’s Award for The Vast Wonder of the World by Melina Mangal. She also illustrated Your Name Is a Song by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow, which received a starred review from Kirkus Reviews, describing her work as “dynamic.” She lives in Bogotá, Colombia, with her partner and two cats.

Resources for Families

Books for young readers (ages 4-14+) who’ve been affected by incarceration, compiled by Arizona State University’s Center for Child-Wellbeing

Prison Fellowship, a Christian organization that has been instrumental in Sara’s family

Parenting Inside Out, a program for incarcerated parents

The National Resource Center on Children and Families of the Incarcerated

Coping with Incarceration, resources created by Sesame Street in Communities

See Us, Support Us, a campaign increasing visibility and support of children with incarcerated parents

Mi hermano está lejos

En este libro conmovedor basado en las experiencias propias de la autora, una niña reflexiona sobre las emociones y los desafíos que enfrenta en torno al encarcelamiento de su hermano.

Con su hermano mayor en prisión, una niña aprende a procesar las emociones confusas que crea su ausencia. A veces recuerda la forma en que su hermano la cargaba sobre sus hombros o como inventaba historias para contarle a la hora de acostarse. Otras veces se siente enojada y quiere volar lejos para olvidar lo sucedido.

Así que está emocionada y además nerviosa cuando su mamá y su papá la llevan a visitarlo. Pero los nervios se transforman en alegría cuando lo ve: todo es diferente, pero todo sigue igual. Su hermano no está en casa, pero su amor no ha cambiado.
Con un lenguaje sóbrio, suave y reconfortante, este libro ilustrado ayudará a los lectores jóvenes con historias similares a sentirse menos solos y les dará a otros lectores una ventana a las luchas que enfrentan algunos niños.

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