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WHEN YOU WERE JUST A HEARTBEAT

Laurel Molk, Author
Laurel Molk, Author . Little, Brown $16.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-316-57980-3
Reviewed on: 03/22/2004
Release date: 04/01/2004
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Lush watercolors depicting nature's splendor anchor this soft breeze of a book, more reverie than story. Writing with soothing rhythm, Molk (Good Job, Oliver! ) implicitly likens the development of a baby in utero to the unfurling of the seasons ("As you grew, winter turned to spring. The pond melted, and the ducks returned from far, far away"). Her comparisons are skillful: she mentions the baby's sprouting of fingers and toes alongside the emergence of spring's earliest denizens, the salamanders, wood frogs and peepers; when she turns to autumn, she talks about how the baby is "busy doing forward rolls" while the squirrels scamper about. Surrounding most of her elegant but simple spot illustrations with white space, Molk fosters a strong visual intimacy between the audience and her subjects. However, she abruptly drops the nature analogy at the end, falling back on pure sentiment ("And when you were born we all rejoiced. And we'll always keep on loving you"). Baby-besotted parents will lap this up, and Molk certainly sends a heartfelt message to young listeners. Ultimately, however, the book may be too esoteric and its illustrations too quiet to capture—and keep—children's attention. All ages. (Apr.)

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