The Baby Tree

Sophie Blackall. Penguin/Paulsen, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-399-25718-6
Blackall once again excels at portraying a thoughtful child with a rich inner life, as her hero/narrator finds his world upended when his parents announce the arrival of a new baby. “I have a hundred questions in my head,” the boy confides to readers, “but the only one that comes out is Are there any more cocopops?” Regaining his bearings, he asks the other adults in his life where babies come from. Their gently evasive half-answers enable Blackall to unleash her special brand of elegant, pokerfaced surrealism; when the kindly but taken aback mailman indicates that he “thinks babies comes from eggs. But he doesn’t know where to get the eggs,” the boy imagines a cozy nest of human baby eggs in various stages of hatching. But Blackall also admires her hero’s inquisitiveness, and the way he squares his parents’ eventual, more scientific explanation with what he’s heard throughout the day (eggs are involved, after all) makes for a lovely tribute to the blossoming mind. An afterword offers helpful narratives for grownups facing a similar line of inquiry. Ages 5–8. Agent: Nancy Gallt Literary Agency. (May)
Reviewed on: 03/10/2014
Release date: 05/01/2014
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