A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What 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.
Talk to your kids 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?
- 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
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 5 - 8
- Number of pages: 40
- Available on: Nook, Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Award: ALA Best and Notable Books
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