cover image Sweet Moon Baby: An Adoption Tale

Sweet Moon Baby: An Adoption Tale

Karen Henry Clark, illus. by Patrice Barton, Knopf, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-375-85709-6

Debuting author Clark suggests that the ambivalent feelings surrounding adoption may be best handled by a fairy tale. Only a whiff of sadness is allowed to intrude on the idyll of "sweet moon baby," who sleeps contentedly as her Chinese parents—clearly loving—agree that they cannot raise her: " ‘She should have pretty things,' the mother said. ‘She should learn to read,' the father said." They send her down the river in a basket ("Only good things will happen to our daughter," they reassure each other), where creatures care for her along the way until she is found by a red-haired man and his wife, who come looking for her in a boat of their own. " ‘Perhaps she will like pretty things,' the wife said. ‘Perhaps she will like books,' the husband said." Each of Barton's spreads is full of comforting notes: the girl's tranquil face, the gentle landscapes, the smiling moon. While some parents may feel uneasy with the story's fantasy elements, others will welcome the affirming images it provides for families with adopted children. Ages 5–8. (Nov.)