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WE WANTED YOU by Liz Rosenberg


by Liz Rosenberg & illustrated by Peter Catalanotto

Age Range: 5 - 8

Pub Date: March 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-7613-1597-7
Publisher: Roaring Brook

Rosenberg (Roots and Flowers, 2001, etc.) and Catalanotto (The Dream Shop, 2002, etc.) team up to create a love letter from a mother and father as their adopted son heads off to college. Unfortunately, while the sophisticated blend of words and images may spark discussion, it is likely to present more questions than it answers, especially for younger children. To begin with, Catalanotto’s realistic illustrations, which add a back-story not evident in Rosenberg’s spare text, are disorienting. The title spread shows a teenager in cap and gown; the final spread shows the young man in a college dorm in front of a banner that reads “Welcome Freshmen.” And it’s only in the end that the child’s name and ethnicity are clearly revealed: a party scene shows the proud white parents holding the brown-skinned infant; behind them, a sign reads, “We Love You, Enrique!” Interior illustrations, presented in reverse chronological order, portray memorable moments in the child’s life. Along the way, Rosenberg conveys the parents’ longing, the anticipation and preparation that precedes the child’s arrival, and the events that unfold when the baby is finally born. After a phone call delivers news of the baby’s birth, Rosenberg writes, “And so we came. We flew! / Because that’s how much we wanted you.” Then, addressing the birth parents: “Somewhere in the world a / mother gave birth to you / a father gave life to you / We weren’t your first father/ and mother.” Considering the title, this unassuming passage carries insensitive undertones and flies in the face of positive adoption language. An unsatisfactory addition to the adoption oeuvre. (Picture book. 5-8)