My Rotten Redheaded Older Brother
ISBN: 0671727516

The Story

My Rotten Redheaded Older Brother Story
(from Leah Polacco)

My Rotten Redheaded Older Brother is the story of Patricia Polacco’s childhood relationship with her brother Richard, and their unending battle to outdo one another. As Patricia is convinced that Richard can "climb the highest, get the dirtiest, and spit the farthest" to name a few, she makes an important wish upon a falling star, "to do something—anything—better than my brother." The morning following her big wish, a traveling carnival comes to town, and Patricia decides the perfect revenge on her rotten, older brother.
"I knew I could do this longer than you," she calls after Richard who, after fifty turns, steps off the merry-go-round. At last, Patricia has outdone him!
However the next thing she knows, Patricia awakes in her bed alongside Richard, who announces that she fell from the merry-go-round. "Looks like you finally did something special," he says.
In My Rotten Redheaded Older Brother, Patricia and Richard both learn a valuable lesson: not to let competition stand in the way of their kinship. Richard proves not to be such a rotten brother after all, by carrying his wounded sister to safety and running for the doctor. And the young Patricia Polacco learns that "Sometimes (wishes) come true differently than you think they will."

"Polacco's flair for storytelling shines in this tale filled to the brim with a family's anecdotes."

Publisher's Weekly


"This warm-hearted look at a typical family relationship will strike a familiar chord with siblings of all ages... Polacco's exuberant illustrations, done in marking pens and pencil, are filled with warmth and humor."

Joy Fleishhacker, New York Public Library -School Library Journal

"...An ALA Notable Children's Book, A School Library Journal Best Book of the Year, and an American Bookseller Pick of the Lists." -Marilyn Courtot

The Artwork

rotten rotten rotten rotten
Rotten Rotten Rotten  

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rotten rotten rotten Rotten

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Activity Ideas

My Rotten Redheaded Older Brother

Did you know there is a valuable lesson to be learned in the story “My Rotten Redheaded Older Brother”? At the end of the story, during which Patricia and her brother Richard are in a battle to try to outdo another (Patricia is convinced that Richard can "climb the highest, get the dirtiest, and spit the farthest" to name a few), the siblings both learn a valuable lesson: not to let competition stand in the way of their kinship.

When you have finished reading the story to your class, discuss this lesson with your students. Here are some examples of questions you could ask (certain questions are only appropriate for older children):

1. What are some of the things Richard did “better” than Patricia in “My Rotten Redheaded Older Brother?

2. What are some of the silly things you have done to try and “outdo” a sibling (or if a student is an only child, ask them to describe some of the ways they have competed with friends)? Suggest… sporting events, costume parades, board games, etc., or open the discussion with your own personal story.

3. How did you feel when your sibling or friend “beat” you? Were you angry? Upset? Vengeful? How did your sibling/friend feel if/when you came out on top?

4. How did Patricia rise above her desire to “outdo” her rotten brother in the story “My Rotten Redheaded Older Brother”? What lesson did she and Richard learn?

5. How can you apply that lesson to your own relationships? Can you rise above the competition?

6. What are some of the special things your siblings/friends have done for you, to show how much they care? What are some of the things you’ve done for them?

7. What are some of the things you love about your sibling/friend? How is that person important in your life?

Other Activities & Ideas:

1. Print off the poster from the story “My Rotten Redhead Older Brother” and have the students make a list on the back of ten things they love about their sibling(s) or friend(s) (or ten positive characteristics). Suggest that they keep the bookmarks as a reminder of the importance of that relationship in their lives.

2. Print off the postcards offered online, or have your students write a letter to their sibling or friend, to remind that person how much they care about them and why. Or, if you have classroom internet access, have the students send a postcard in class (for those without e-mail addresses, print off the postcard).

3. Print off any one or all of the color-ins to have your children color in-class or as an at-home assignment.

4. Quiz their knowledge of the book with the “My Rotten Redheaded Older Brother” quiz offered online.

5. Have your students draw a picture of their sibling(s) or friend(s).

6. Encourage those students who have shared their disagreements with siblings and friends, to go home and make amends with that person, or suggest that they write a letter.

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