A picture-book musing about growing up.
The innovative cover and frontmatter design with die cuts shaped like a crawling baby, a young child, and an older child will immediately catch readers’ eyes. The rhyming text endeavors to speak in universals about growth and development, and this effort is aided by depictions of diverse people with different skin colors and hair textures and colors at various life stages (though there’s little variation in body type and no inclusion of visible disability). Earlier stages are presented with babies, toddlers, and children engaged in concrete activities that signify their varied, increasing degrees of independence. Later scenes veer toward the metaphorical to represent adolescent, adult, and aged people’s respective states of being. For example, babies are depicted directly engaging with the natural world: “They stretch to feed the hungry ducks with food clutched in their hands— / with each and every passing day, their tiny world expands.” On the other hand, “Stranded on an island is a wild and restless teen— / unsure of their direction or what their future means.” The accompanying art depicts the teen on an island, which ushers in symbolic understanding since it strains credulity to take the scene as a literal, universal adolescent experience. Throughout, the illustrations are defined by a soft visual texture and subdued color palette that visually evokes the gentle text’s affirming tone.
A lovely, gently existential exploration. (Picture book. 5-10)