"Always My Brother," written by Jean Reagan, provides a gentle, yet realistic depiction of a child going through the grieving process.  Becky and her older brother John are best friends, sharing a love of soccer, their dog Toby,  and knock-knock jokes.  When John dies--out of sight and without any explanation--Becky is left to cope with her feelings.

Reagan does a wonderful job of tracing how Becky doesn't know how to behave anymore.  Soccer is hard, since it is something she shared with John.  Laughing and having fun makes her feel guilty, because it means she isn't thinking about her brother.  Gradually, though, Becky grows more comfortable with her new reality, with her pain abating over time and with the help of her parents.

The book also benefits from the wonderful illustrations by Phyllis Pollema-Cahill, who makes the ordinariness of this family and their sadness evident.

This book would be an important addition to any children's library collection.  Because Reagan keeps John's death ambiguous, the book could be used to help children facing any sort of loss.  Other children dealing with a death, like the character Becky, would benefit from the insights provided by this warm, sensitive book.

This book was provided to me for review by Library Thing.