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Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Baby Tree, written and illustrated by Sophie Blackall. Nancy Paulsen Books, Penguin. 2014. $19.99 ages 4 and up

"I have a hundred questions
in my head, but the only one
that comes out is Are there
any more cocopops? And
because Mom and Dad are all
happy about the baby coming,
they let me have a second 
helping of cocopops and I 
make sure it's a big one."  

This is a perfect book for Mother's Day, or any day for that matter! I look forward to every new book by Sophie Blackall. In reading this one, you will totally understand why. She writes from the heart of a child!

The little boy begins this day with all that is normal to his existence...getting up, waking Mom and Dad, getting dressed and having breakfast. While at breakfast, his parents share important news...a new baby is coming. While his head swims with many questions, the most important one at the moment is the opportunity to up his consumption of cocopops. Then, life gets in the way and there is no time for what is really on his mind.

On the way to school, he asks his babysitter. She provides information about a seed and a baby tree. His teacher mentions the hospital. His grandfather, when they finally visit, assures that storks bring babies to your doorstep. A daily check of the doorstep yields only mail! Even the mailman has a say about eggs.

When he finally has a chance one bedtime to ask his parents, they provide the answer he needs. Their honesty matches with much of what he has been told by others...a seed, an egg, the hospital. Now, he has something to teach his grandfather.

"But Grandpa...
I'm going to have to tell
Grandpa where babies
really come from."

In an afterword, Ms. Blackall provides clear answers to the questions young children are sure to ask...just enough to satisfy their curiosity without overwhelming them with more than they really want to know.

Ms. Blackall's familiar, gentle pen-and-ink artwork clearly captures the warmth of family, the everyday events in a young child's life, and his interpretation of the answers provided to their questions, while adding humor and honesty. Careful attention to the many details she includes add to the enjoyment of this story. I know that she shares studio space with Brian Floca and Sergio Ruzzier; so, it is delightful to see that the two books the family shares at bedtime are Locomotive (Atheneum, 2013) and Bear and Bee (Disney-Hyperion, 2013).

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