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Review of The Baby Tree

blackall_baby treestar2 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.

Elissa Gershowitz About Elissa Gershowitz

Elissa Gershowitz is executive editor of The Horn Book, Inc. She holds an MA from the Center for the Study of Children's Literature at Simmons College and a BA from Oberlin College.



  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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