One doesn’t often see a book that focuses on the bond between a child and his uncle, and after an unsuccessful search for such a book, author Lori K. Marchand was inspired to write her own picture book, TIME with my UNCLE.
This is a simple rhyming book that begins with an uncle’s visit to the hospital where his nephew has just been born. As the book progresses, the uncle’s regular visits to see his young nephew are eagerly anticipated, and Marchand does a nice job balancing the traditional avuncular “rough and tumble” influence (checking out the uncle’s diesel engine truck) with more creative activities such as singing, and dancing.
The book is narrowly focused—not just centered on the child-uncle relationship, but more specifically, the boy-uncle relationship. Further, the story ends with the boy as a toddler, so readers only bear witness to the very early stages of this relationship. In sum, it’s aimed at a very targeted audience. However, while the experiences recounted in the book will not be common to every nephew-uncle pair, Marchand keeps the characters unnamed, making it easier for readers to see themselves in this duo.
The illustrations look to be modeled on actual photographs, but they don’t fall into the trap of being overly static (a common pitfall for illustrators using photos as models). One issue for parents reading the story aloud to toddlers might be the use of words very young children won’t understand, such as “afoul,” “bonding” and “sublime.” But this is a minor quibble.
Overall, TIME with my UNCLE captures specific uncle-nephew moments very well, as with this passage that finishes the book: “Any time we had a chance/We stood up side by side./I danced. He sang. A bonding/That can never be denied.” This is book that fills a gap in the children’s book market—with loving, warm-hearted results.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.