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THE BABY TREE by Sophie Blackall


by Sophie Blackall ; illustrated by Sophie Blackall

Age Range: 4 - 6

Pub Date: May 1st, 2014
ISBN: 978-0-399-25718-6
Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

When a small boy learns a baby’s coming to his family, he wonders where it’s coming from.

In words and pictures, the unnamed narrator’s imagination builds a variety of possibilities from the pat responses to his query he gets from a teenage friend, a teacher, the mailman and his grandfather. Finally, he asks his parents. Their simple explanation about a seed, an egg and birth in a hospital helps him see that all the other answers (except for Grandpa’s story about the stork) were partially right. As she did in Are You Awake? (2011), Blackall captures the natures of children’s curiosity and family conversations. Her ink-and-watercolor illustrations include plenty of white space. They show the rosy-cheeked boy engaged in typical kid activities at home, at school and while visiting his grandfather. His question is not burning, but time passes and he gets more and more confused. (And his mother gets visibly pregnant.) The pacing is leisurely and the tone gently humorous, and the answer includes no anatomical details. Modern in its imagery (both parents have smartphones plugged in by the bed), this is just right for initiating a conversation with a 4- to 6-year-old child. A final page for parents covers less typical family situations: twins, adoption and single-sex couples.

A gentle, appropriate answer to a perennial question. (Picture book. 4-6)