Review of Nine Months: Before a Baby Is Born

Nine Months: Before a Baby Is Born
by Miranda Paul; illus. by Jason Chin
Primary    Porter/Holiday    32 pp.
4/19    978-0-8234-4161-7    $18.99
e-book ed.  978-0-8234-4213-3    $18.99

A pithy quintain describes the moment a fertilized human egg becomes a two-celled zygote: “Small. / Ball. / The point of a pin. / Then it divides… / Our story begins.” It’s the first of nine five-line stanzas that trace a fetus’s development in utero. But this isn’t just a story about the nine months of gestation; it’s also a tale — told mostly with illustrations — of a family happily awaiting a baby’s arrival. As left-hand pages track a zygote’s transformation, first into an embryo (there’s a tail!) and then into a fetus, right-hand pages show slice-of-life scenes of a mom, dad, and soon-to-be big sister (details in the watercolor and gouache illustrations indicate the family is Latinx). Often — and quite cleverly — each stanza’s final line embraces both the future newborn and the future big sister. Take Paul’s “month-five” stanza, for example: “Lips. / Flips. / Curve, dip, and groove. / She has a face. / She likes to move!” Chin’s verso illustration shows a fetus, at week 20, upside-down with legs crossed. On the opposite page, the big sister jumps on her bed while her parents assemble a crib. During the third trimester, the left-hand illustrations begin to push onto the right-hand pages, ultimately taking over the entire double-page spread. It’s another whimsical touch in this joyful celebration of the nine months leading up to a baby’s birth. “Light. / Bright! / Crying and cheer. / Loved ones arrive… / A baby is here.” Back matter includes further details about gestational development as well as a selected bibliography.

From the May/June 2019 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Tanya D. Auger

Tanya D. Auger
Tanya D. Auger is a former middle school teacher with a master’s degree in learning and teaching from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.


Get access to reviews of books, ebooks, and more


We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing.