A birthday tribute from mother to child.
Second-person point of view aligns readers with the direct address to “you” as a maternal voice recalls pregnancy, the birth of her child, and early childhood milestones, then anticipates the future. Opening and closing illustrations of an unmentioned, semianthropomorphic cat and dog detract from the interaction of words and pictures, since their relationship to the narrative is unclear. The opening text reads, “Once a year, / every year, a special day comes around.” Readers may wonder why the illustrations accompanying those lines are of a cat holding a candle and then a dog scratching its ear. In the third spread, however, a picture of a full-term fetus curled up against a womblike, rounded background plainly evokes the text’s statement about “wondering when you were going to come out of my tummy.” Other spreads feature the baby (who, like its mother, has dark hair and peachy skin) at various stages of development: nursing, learning to crawl, and then walking and running. Spare text, translated from Japanese, is loving and celebratory, while soft illustrations with minimal backgrounds provide an ideal aesthetic match. When the text shifts from concrete representations of the baby’s development to say “One day you will fly away,” the art offers a literal interpretation and shows the child flying against a blue background, which seems out of step with the real-world mother and child depiction.
Loving—but a bit puzzling. (Picture book. 2-5)