The Baby Tree



Gentle, sensitive intro to where babies come from.

What parents need to know

Educational value

The Baby Tree was written to answer a specific question: Where do babies come from? The tone suggests that reproduction is natural and doesn't have to be confusing. The information presented is clear and simple. Since young children don't always want more information than they've asked for, more isn't given. The page at the end with more information for parents and caregivers touches lightly on adoption and same-sex parents.

Positive messages

Reproduction is natural. Kids can ask parents for information when they're confused. Adults can be loving and well-meaning -- though still sometimes confusing!

Positive role models

The Baby Tree nicely models cross-age friendships and relationships. The teen girl who walks the boy to school is caring and accessible. The boy has a close relationship with his grandpa, and the boy's parents are supportive and loving. The book also models diversity. The children pictured in the boy's classroom and on the baby tree he imagines are multiracial. 

Violence & scariness
Not applicable
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that The Baby Tree, written and illustrated by popular, award-winning illustrator Sophie Blackall (Ivy + Bean) is a gentle and kid-friendly introduction to the question of where babies come from. It's narrated by a young boy who's just heard he has a sibling on the way. The most graphic passage reads: "They begin with a seed from their dad which gets planted in an egg inside their mom." The book can serve as a handy jumping-off point for sensitive family discussions. At the back, there's a page suggesting specific language and answers parents might use in discussions if they want to talk a bit more in-depth. Though the family pictured is a traditional mom-and-pop one, the back matter makes clear that the information provided also is pertinent to adoption or same-sex parents, since "Every family is slightly different, but every single baby begins with a sperm and an egg."

What's the story?

When a young boy discovers he has a new sibling on the way, he wonders where babies come from. He asks a variety of people, including his teacher, his grandpa, and the mailman, who give him a grab bag of evasive half-answers. The teen girl who walks him to school says, "You plant a seed and it grows into a baby tree." All this makes for charming, lightly humorous illustrations. Finally, the boy asks his parents, who answer him with straightforward, scientifically accurate information about conception and gestation, information that's also reassuringly simple and kid-friendly.

Is it any good?


Sophie Blackall is a crowd-pleasing illustrator who works in an appealing soft palette of watercolor and ink, and her storytelling in THE BABY TREE is just as inviting. The young boy narrator tells his story in a realistic kid's voice that rings true to his age and is lightly humorous. His school friends, and the babies that grow on the baby tree he imagines, are nicely multiracial. The information the parents provide him in the story itself is accurate but not overly graphic.

The implicit message for parents is: Answer the question honestly, but don't overwhelm kids with information they didn't necessarily ask for. At the end of the book, there's a page of text offering parents suggestions about language they might use to answer questions in greater depth.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about where babies come from. What's the accurate information about conception and reproduction?

  • What ideas did you have before about babies and where they come from? What have other adults told you? Other kids?

  • How do you feel about having a new sibling on the way? What are you excited about? What are you worried about?

Book details

Author:Sophie Blackall
Illustrator:Sophie Blackall
Genre:Picture Book
Topics:Brothers and sisters, Friendship, Great boy role models, Science and nature
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Nancy Paulsen Books
Publication date:May 1, 2014
Number of pages:40
Publisher's recommended age(s):5 - 8
Available on:Nook, Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
Award:ALA Best and Notable Books

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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