A young swallow comforts his mother after the loss of her egg.
Used to his mother soothing him when he’s sad, Gabriel is heartbroken to discover Mommy Swallow crying. When she tells him how her nest collapsed and her egg was lost, Gabriel is sad he won’t be a big brother. To comfort his mother, Gabriel reminds her of the world’s beauty as the two swallows fly, dive, and survey the forest on a summer day. As Mommy Swallow embraces him, Gabriel glows with pride to see his mother’s “eyes smiling” once more. Originally published in Canada and translated from French, this quiet story is distinctive for specifically addressing pregnancy loss. The brief, gentle text, descriptive yet with room for discussion, pairs pleasantly with painterly, tranquil nature landscapes. Although the birds are charming, their strictly realistic rendering precludes visual character development through body and facial expressions. There is also an unfortunate emotional distance created by the loss of the egg outside the bird’s body, instead of inside, as with humans. Finally, making Gabriel the key to his mother’s happiness is a sweet idea, but it both places inappropriate responsibility on the child and disempowers Mommy Swallow; it may also alienate those caregivers reading aloud who have not experienced a successful pregnancy. In reality, although there are important external supports, for many adults experiencing pregnancy loss, resilience and strength must ultimately come from within.
This well-intentioned story about pregnancy loss is far from perfect but fills a gap. (Picture book. 3-8)