What is the meaning of life? For a psychologist/author, a child at any age can begin pondering that question.
“In the beginning everyone is born,” the narrator begins, accompanied by debut illustrator Kriegstein’s sterile version of a hospital suite: smiling parents, doctor, and nurse surrounding a big-mouthed baby whose umbilical cord is still attached. That cord becomes a vivid theme throughout the book, and though its presence might be odd in pictures for younger children, elementary schoolers with some knowledge of the birth process may be able to follow both the literal and figurative concept through the tale. The narrator allows that some people know what they want to be from an early age and pursue that goal while others don’t. But everyone’s choices are affected by that figurative umbilical cord (with Kriegstein deftly continuing the theme by providing one to an old man still wearing a diaper), linking individuals to their family histories. Eventually, the old man follows the cord back to a divinity, who doesn’t know what he wants to be. The vocabulary is extremely approachable for mid-to-upper elementary school readers. And the detailed, painterly images offer a diverse cast of babies and adults groping toward purpose.While it’s philosophically perplexing with an odd hint of spirituality, Lev’s (Spiders Kill Their Young, 2017) story begs meditative readers to pore over it multiple times. Others, however, may return to Mo Willems’ Elephant and Piggie volume We Are in a Book! for their kid-friendly existentialism.
An intriguing existential tale that thoughtful readers will want to read several times.