When I Was Born

Isabel Minhos Martins, Author, Madalena Matoso, Illustrator
Isabel Minh%C3%B3s Martins, illus. by Madalena Matoso. Abrams/Tate, $12.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-85437-958-0
Reviewed on: 04/18/2011
Release date: 02/01/2011
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This small gem by a Portuguese duo celebrates the wonder of mere existence. "When I was born I had never seen anything," Martins begins, the words appearing alone in white type in a sea of black. "Only the darkness of my mother's tummy." A pink-faced boy then embodies the voice, reflecting on the time when he was brand-new: "When I was born I had never played with stones or got muddy hands... My hands had never touched anything except each other." And he shares how far his hands have reached and what they have learned: "With them I have already found out... that some things have other things inside them." Matoso echoes the straightforward observations with strongly contrasting primary colors and flat, impish human figures, animals, and shapes. The boy's delight as he recounts the growth of his senses and abilities ("My mouth was amazed to discover what it could do: screaming, laughing, calling things by their names") is a reminder to readers of both the milestones they have passed and of the many more to come. Ages 3–8. (Feb.)
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