Review of The Baby Tree

blackall baby tree Review of The Baby Treestar2 Review of The Baby Tree The Baby Tree
by Sophie Blackall; illus. by the author
Preschool    Paulsen/Penguin    40 pp.
5/14    978-0-399-25718-6    $17.99    g

A little boy narrator finds out from his parents one morning that he’s going to be a big brother. Just one question: “Where are we going to get the baby?” Over the course of the day, he asks the grownups in his life — his babysitter, his teacher, his grandpa, the mailman — if they know where babies come from. Each gives a different answer — a seed, the hospital, an egg — that confuses him but, as it turns out when his parents give him the real story, ends up being partially true (except for Grandpa’s: there are no storks). At bedtime, Mom and Dad provide their son with a very basic, concise explanation of babies’ origin: “They begin with a seed from their dad…Which gets planted in an egg inside their mom…” Blackall’s text is straightforward, calm, and reassuring without being clinical. Her Chinese-ink and watercolor illustrations make the most of the narrator’s imaginative flights of fancy, and the cherubic, rosy-cheeked babies of different ethnicities are cute as a button, whether they’re buds on a “baby tree” or swaddled, nesting doll–like, in their hospital rooms. (Cutting through all the adorableness, Grandpa keeps his kidney stones in a jar by his own hospital bed to show the narrator.) An appended page provides suggestions for adults about addressing the “where do babies come from?” question.

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Elissa Gershowitz About Elissa Gershowitz

Elissa Gershowitz is senior editor of The Horn Book Magazine and online content editor for The Horn Book, Inc. She is a current member of the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee.


  1. I finally received my inter-library copy of this beautifully illustrated book. To be sure I am a big fan of Ms. Blackall’s art and thought last year’s THE MIGHTY LALOUCHE was magnificent. Two of the first grade teachers I read THE BABY TREE to this morning were aghast at the content near the end when the discussion turns to seeds and eggs. It will be interesting to see if a complaint is made to my wife who is the school’s principal. I am in a school system where a parent is apt to complain about the color shirt one is wearing. Ha! But one teacher couldn’t believe this is aimed at such young kids, much less even pre-schoolers.

    Frankly I have no problem at all. I love the book. Excellent review here.

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