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.
From the May/June 2014 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.