‘The Brothers Quibble’: 2015 ALIA National Simultaneous Storytime


‘The Brothers Quibble’: 2015 ALIA National Simultaneous Storytime

Author/illustrator Aaron Blabey continues to produce one brilliant book after another and ‘The Brothers Quibble’ is pure literary gold, so I was delighted to see it chosen as the 2015 National Simultaneous Storytime book.

To add these books to your home or school library click on title links or cover images. 

Brothers Quibble

Spalding Quibble ruled the roost.
He shared it with no other.
But then his parents introduced
a brand new baby brother.

Uh oh.

A picture book about love (and war) from the award-winning author of Pearl Barley and Charlie Parsley, The Dreadful Fluff and Noah Dreary.

Blabely has produced a book that many children will relate to and all children will get a laugh out of. Laughter is one of the main aims of National Simultaneous Storytime: National Simultaneous Storytime is an annual campaign that aims to encourage more young Australians to read and enjoy books. Now in its 15th successful year it is a colourful, vibrant, fun event that aims to promote the value of reading and literacy using an Australian children’s book that explores age appropriate themes, and addresses key learning areas of the National Curriculum for Grades F to 6 and the pre-school Early Learning Years Framework (see more at ALIA).NSS2015-Web-Graphic-0-Banner

I’ve been reading all the outrage and controversy about this year’s choice of book for NSS and have had a number of emails asking my opinion about the suitability of ‘The Brothers Quibble’ for use in primary schools. I wasn’t going to respond online, until tonight, when I once again found my three and seven year old girls acting out the story of Spalding and Bunny with their Shopkins (Dear Lord, give me strength to survive Shopkins) and suddenly I felt compelled to share my thoughts on this little piece of literary brilliance. I also happen to be trying to avoid the dishes, and lunch making for tomorrow.

I do understand that not all teachers, parents, librarians feel comfortable sharing a book where an older brother is so downright dreadful about his new baby brother. There is also some pretty strong language, many pictures with WILD eyes, and two parents who look like they need a really good sleep, a razor and a hairbrush.  I don’t know what your reality was, but that description pretty much sums up what my house looked like when ChickPea came home: chaos; wild eyes; unwashed hair; and tears from baby, older sister, the dog and myself. It’s a hard time, but that time passes and (mostly) siblings end up forming a deep and lasting bond. The tumble from ‘king of the castle’ as a firstborn child can be rough, but ultimately, younger siblings can be ace. To me that seems that message of ‘The Brothers Quibble’.Brothersa brand new baby brother

Children are far more astute as readers/viewers of books than we give them credit for. Even at three, ChickPea understands that Spaldings antics are super naughty, and she’s hardly going to try and recreate them in real life as she has her own repertoire of antics which would give Spalding a run for his money. Her party themes to date say it all really: Cranky Ladybird first; Wild Thing second and  dinosaur third.

I firmly believe that 99% of children know that books by Andy Griffiths, David Walliams and Roald Dahl (the first master of subversive children’s literature) are often exaggerated, OTT and just pure fun. Children’s literature need not, indeed should not, be saccharine sweet. Children’s literature should challenge, extend, amuse and delight our young people. Far from being an ‘easy option’, humorous literature encourages critical reading as young people learn to read between the lines and develop an awareness of subtly and sarcasm, right and wrong. You can read more about my thoughts on humour in children’s literature here.

Anyway, if you, your library or your school has decided that ‘The Brothers Quibble’ is just not for you – no worries! There are plenty of other Aaron Blabley options (below), or use one of the books from the previous 14 years worth of NSS titles, which can be found on the ALIA site.

If you are using ‘The Brothers Quibble’, yay! There are awesome teachers’ notes by Jackie Small (of My Little Bookcase) here, activity ideas from ALIA here, and Susan Stephenson is uploading ideas from the 20th May on The Book Chook.


Aaron Blabley Titles

sunday chutney Noah Dreary the-dreadful-fluff Pearl Stanley pig the pug pig-the-fibber ghost-of-miss-annabel-spoon thelma-the-unicorn

The titles of each book takes you to the Australian based online bookstore Booktopia. You can also compare prices on Fishpond and Bookworld for Australian purchases.If you live in the US or would prefer to use Amazon click here. If you live in the UK or would prefer to use Book Depository click here. Purchases clicked through from the Children’s Books Daily site result in a small commission. Commission is used in part to maintain Children’s Books Daily and to support community groups which connect children with books.


  1. I had no idea that there was outrage out there about this selection! I think it’s fantastic. Of course children get that Spalding is naughty and spoilt, and acting out in a way that many children actually do. But it’s a story told with humour and love.

    BTW I’ve never heard of Shopkins- I don’t think that I’ve missed all that much.

  2. Like Louise, I had no idea that this choice for NSS was so controversial! We all clapped with glee when we saw it had been selected. Aaron’s books have a huge audience, as proved by his YABBA win last year for The Dreadful Fluff. It’s a great read-aloud book and the situations, whilst a little larger than life (this IS a picture book after all), are portrayed in a way that kids will identify with immediately. To suggest, as some of the critics have, that small children will be encouraged to hurt younger siblings after reading this book beggars belief. It so underestimates the children as an audience. The majority look at this story and comment on how silly the older brother is, even though they understand his frustration and fear of being replaced. This story is full of love – the fact that Spalding’s parents love him no matter what, and that his younger brother feels nothing but love for him, is the important message here. Love and acceptance are the key, and kids GET IT.

  3. Megan, what a wonderful article.
    I think that a bit of controversy is fantastic, now Aaron is up there with the JK Rowlings of the world!
    Of course, we LOVE the book and think it’s the ideal choice.
    It’s a shame that some schools have banned it, it’s the students who are missing out on a fantastic event.

  4. I also had no idea about any controversy until someone at work mentioned it. Mad! Aaron Blabey’s books have long been a hit with us, and the selection of The Brothers Quibble was gold! We have given this, and Aaron’s subsequent books a good airing this week, and will probably never stop reading them. People need to get back to an understanding of the way little kids think!

  5. I had a feeling the choice of this book was to incite some criticism when I read it to my kids in anticipation of sharing it with my playgroup. I decided that the images were perhaps a little strong for toddlers but we are having a rip roaring time reading it at home with Miss 3 and Masters 6 & 8. Especially where Daddy Quibble is tearing out his hair as Dear Husband has pointed the finger of blame at our little Quibbles for his sudden and dramatic loss.

  6. Ooh I’ll keep an eye out for this author next time I’m tidying the “B” section at school ❤️ Love that you are educating this ‘kiwi living in Aus’ about books here!


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