When Aidan Became a Brother is one of those books that can be a bit difficult to write about. Mostly because how do you talk about it without telling the whole story? Also, as a picture book, 250 words might be more than the entire book has. Therefore, I will say this book is a realistic journey from being born female to becoming Aidan. I am assuming this as Kyle Lukoff has had a similar journey themselves and therefore can honestly portray a child taking this journey from female to male. It feels honest by showing the ups and downs from knowing something was “off” (and how it is or isn’t handled by the child and family) to finally knowing how to be “on.” This sounds like a child talking about their journey. Then, there is the issue of how Aidan will be a good big brother when they learn of a new sibling is on the way. Even, then, things are not easy. Such as the hardware store man wanting to ask questions when Aidan says they want to be a good brother. Because that is Aidan’s biggest worry: that they will not be a good brother to their new sibling.
This is where I get lost. This scene (and a few other places) seemed to be incomplete for me. I am going to assume it is just me and I missed “something,” but I feel like Lukoff has left something out. Therefore, a second reading is recommended. This is one reason I love books. They have layers. Even a 32-page picture book. I love that this book is straight forward but not easy. It might make you uncomfortable, but also help give comfort where it is needed. And while it is told from the point of view of a child, it is not talking down, or lack maturity.
Kaylani Juanita’s illustrations will be subjective to the viewer. While they are pleasant, they may not appeal to all. They show diversity and the story perfectly. There are muted colors, but not dull. And there are pops of colors and details when needed. These elements are used to enhance not to distract. Yet, they are not my favorite illustrations I have seen. I think it was partly because I was not comfortably sitting, able to enjoy both art and text, but did the reading on a “quick run” between tasks at work. This too, adds to the need for a second reading. But also, another reason I like books. Just because something does not “fit” for you, does not mean it is wrong or bad. I think this helps support the message of the book, too. Aidan did not “fit” before they “found” Aidan and their true self. Which is the journey we all take in some form or other.