cover image Before You Came

Before You Came

Patricia MacLachlan and Emily MacLachlan Charest, illus. by David Diaz, HarperCollins/Tegen, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-06-051234-7

Iridescent light, tropical colors, and entwined, nature-themed patterns distinguish Caldecott Medalist Diaz's (Smoky Night) lavish art, which is the bedrock of this resplendent book. Suggestive of the subjects of some of Picasso's figurative paintings, the narrator is pictured exclusively in profile, and she radiates a maternal serenity that shines through her monologue. Addressing her child, the woman offers a melodic reminiscence of her life before the child's birth. Many memories are rooted in nature: she paddled in a canoe while "swallows dipped and swooped, catching bugs just above the water," witnessed a moonflower blooming in her garden, and watched birds fluttering at her feeders. She also happily read books outdoors and listened to the child's father play guitar and sing. "Then you were born. And now all the things I had before you came are for you," she announces, bequeathing her life's pleasures to her child. Details of their mothers' and fathers' lives before they became parents are a constant source of fascination for children, and this talented team celebrates the "before," while emphasizing (and reassuring) that the "now" is even better. Ages 4–8. (Feb.)