Me First

Me First

Illustrator: Max Kornell

  • Hardcover
  • ISBN 9780399159978
  • 32 Pages
  • Nancy Paulsen Books
  • 5-8 years


Max Kornell’s relatable tale of sibling rivalry will charm readers and make them laugh with a brother and sister’s constant attempts to outdo each other.
If there’s one thing siblings Hal and Martha can agree on, it’s this: It is important to be first! But what happens when being first is suddenly not so much fun? Competing to explore a new route home one day, Hal and Martha discover that sometimes having a brother or sister right beside you is even better than being one step ahead of them.


“Kornell looks at how cutthroat competition and bragging rights can define a sibling relationship, using the same quiet incisiveness and narrative restraint that made his debut, Bear with Me, so impressive. . . . Unlike many fictional younger sisters, Martha is no needy shrinking violet. . . . Emphatic ink lines and rich earth tones make this book particularly handsome and underscore the intensity of the protagonists’ deep-seated, single-minded drive to triumph—first independently, and then together.” — Publishers Weekly

“A gloriously bucolic setting, as evocative as a woodblock print burnished with the light of sunset. . . . If it teaches just one reader not to need to always go one better, it’s brought peace to one small sliver of Earth. As soothing on the eyes as it is, potentially, on the nerves.” — Kirkus Reviews

“Kornell’s acrylic ink drawings burst with color. Martha, Hal, and their parents are depicted as very expressive donkeys; William Steig’s Sylvester and his folks are a good comparison. The messages here about sibling rivalry come minus any heavy-handedness.” — The Horn Book

“The old-fashioned illustrations are appropriate for this fable-like tale. . . . The composition and line work of the acrylic ink is excellent. . . . This story of sibling rivalry will have broad appeal, especially for parents looking to emphasize the importance of teamwork.” — School Library Journal

“Hal and Martha quarrel the way that older brothers and younger sisters do. . . . The playful figures brim with personality as they argue and cavort in a setting of lush, full-bleed, earth-tone landscapes, all of it captured in Kornell’s jaunty, saturated ink drawings. With a tender story and appealing aesthetic, this outing will easily win over storytime audiences.” — Booklist

“A refreshing twist on the typical sibling-rivalry plot that works to good effect; the shift between the sibs is largely inferred, but it is this quiet transformation that lends meaning. The story’s warmth is effectively balanced by the illustrations’ acrylic washes. . . . This may prove just the story for approaching the topic of sibling competition in a family, but it will draw plenty of viewers for its balance of humor and poignancy alone.” — The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

“Sibling rivalry is alive and well in this book.” — Library Media Connection
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