A much-wanted child arrives as fulfillment of his parents’ dearest wish.
Neither a where-do-babies-come-from book nor one about sibling adjustment to a new baby, this fanciful treatment of parental longing for a baby seems aimed at adults more than children. The text is delivered in direct address to an unnamed “you” who’s at first absent from the would-be parents’ lives. Perhaps in an attempt to tilt the story toward child-friendliness, the adults in question are an anthropomorphic elephant couple. As they begin to notice others with babies (birds in a nest, another elephant pushing a stroller), they start to wish, plan, learn and build. Pictures eschew crib-assembly or other traditional baby-planning preparations to show the couple building a boat and setting sail, as if for some island cabbage patch where they might find an elephant’s child. In a poignant twist, the journey doesn’t immediately fulfill their baby wish, and they return home saddened but resilient. When a baby does arrive, suddenly parting the seas like a tiny pachyderm Moses in a sailboat, the parents are thrilled that their baby is “HERE.” The metaphorical use of boats and journeying to find a baby could lend itself to interpretations of the story as an adoption narrative, but this isn’t clearly indicated. Instead, cartoony art and spare text alike are most concerned with communicating longing and love.
Wish fulfilled, if a tad inscrutably. (Picture book. 3-5)