Sunday, May 12, 2019
Nine Months: Before a Baby Is Born, written by Miranda Paul and illustrated by Jason Chin. Neal Porter Books, Holiday House. Penguin Random House. 2019. $24.99 ages 4 and up
(Weeks 17 - 21)
Curve, dip, and groove.
She has a face.
She likes to move!"
A perfect book for Mother's Day, and an admirable mix of informative text, and poetic and visual literacy.
Miranda Paul textually describes each month of a baby's nine month development; the first month encompasses weeks 1-4, and the description of the fertilized egg at day 17 through to the development of a 4-celled zygote one day later. Accompanying that fact is a touching poem that describes what is happening. On the facing page, the family's story begins as well in a beautiful detailed illustration by Jason Chin.
Each page turn takes the family one step closer to the baby's birth. The months follow one after the other showing the changes that are happening in the developing child. Life goes on both inside and outside the mother. Captions show the the timeline, and provide actual size images of the embryo as it grows.
Jason Chin's exemplary artwork ensures that each month's changes are carefully detailed and real. The story he tells in his facing illustrations show a family of three as the parents help their older child understand all that is happening, and the changes that are coming. A story book about a baby at bedtime, a new 'big sister' t-shirt, a glimpse of the growing baby at the ultrasound, the little girl practicing parenting with a favorite doll, assembling a new crib, and all the while making the sibling aware of the changes that are happening in her mom's body. She watches, touches, sings to, and anticipates the arrival when grandparents show up to care for her while mom and dad are at the hospital. And, she is first to crawl up on Mom's bed and give that new being a careful welcome.
I can't get enough of the watercolor and gouache illustrations! I have returned to them again and again, always seeing some new small detail I missed in a previous reading. They are medically accurate, and the family's story is filled with warmth and wonder.
In back matter, Ms. Paul provides additional facts concerning the growth milestones for a full-term baby. She shares 'nine amazing things most babies can do before they're born', compares human gestation to that of other mammals, and explains what happens with multiple births, premature arrivals and if something goes wrong. A selected bibliography follows.