Saffron and Willa have two brothers still in Ethiopia. Big Brother is a teenager who lives with their kind aunt and goes to school. Little Brother is between Saffron and Willa, probably about six years old, and still lives with their father and stepmother. Now that they can express themselves better in English, the girls love to reminisce about Little Brother—understandably so!
For Willa, especially, Little Brother was the world. He was her constant playmate, and apparently a funny one. When Saffron was sitting down and leaning back on her arm, he liked to knock her arm out of its spot so she would fall down. Though Stepmother did like boys more than girls, she still did not allow Little Brother to go to school. As many little boys in the Ethiopian countryside, he was charged with caring for the family's cows.
Willa likes to tell how he would sit on one of the cows as he kept watch over his tiny herd of 3 or 4. Little Brother and Dad would walk to the store sometimes to sell some of their milk, and at Christmas they would slaughter one of Little Brother's cows. This, along, with a tremendous loaf of bread, was Christmas feast and Christmas present all wrapped in one.
For Willa all cows are a reminder of Little Brother, and we name them to match. When Grandma told her to choose a toy at the store, she chose a cow. Every time we eat beef we like to tease her that it's one of Little Brother's cows, all the way from Ethiopia.
When Saffron and Willa went to the orphanage, Little Brother was very sad. He wanted to go, too.