In this lushly illustrated poem, a baby grows in the womb, while through the seasons the soon-to-be big sister wonders who this baby will become.
Banks begins each verse with a description of the baby’s growth in utero. As flutters turn to kicks, the older child’s questions represent seasonal changes: Will the baby like rain boots, spring leaves, the sea? But most importantly, “Will this baby like me?” The latter parts are thoughtful, lyrical and evocative, while the former half at times feels clunky. And while the lettering matches the aesthetic of the illustrations, it at times crowds Swiatkowska’s stunning artwork. Worked in a rich, limited primary palette, her pieces are a wonderful mashup of Maira Kalman’s playful compositions and linework and Peter Paul Rubens’ sumptuous, romantic depictions of the human form. In her figures readers will feel the warmth of the baby’s flesh, the softness of the skin. And although some of her brush strokes look raw or unfinished, every color gradation or mark is descriptive of either form or value. Her spreads are deceivingly sophisticated and absolutely dreamy. Unfortunately, while it seems that the images want to play across a wider format, the work is designed in an awkwardly vertical fashion, stifling the art.While there are elements of brilliance, poor design decisions keep this title from reaching its full potential. (Picture book. 4-7)