cover image THE RED BLANKET


Eliza Thomas, , illus. by Joe Cepeda. . Scholastic, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-439-32253-9

This intimately told story recounts Thomas's journey from single woman to adoptive mother of PanPan, a Chinese baby girl (the author has also covered this topic in the adult memoir The Road Home). The narrator here, an adult, addresses her adopted daughter directly, telling her a favorite tale with all the cherished details preserved intact. She describes her longing for a child ("Somewhere, a little girl is waiting for a mommy"), then her journey to China, and the first day with her new baby daughter, who "looked everywhere but at me.... You wriggled and squirmed and kicked your skinny little feet, and then you began to cry." To the rescue comes a soft red blanket, comforting the confused baby and bridging the unknown between two strangers as they become mother and child. Reflecting the rollercoaster of the adoption process, Cepeda's (Mice and Beans ) dancing visuals thrum with color and energy. Letters fly magically out the door to the adoption agency; the narrator leaps with happiness as she receives a photograph of her baby; an older PanPan, holding tight to the now-tattered blanket, runs out to play. While the length of the text may be a stumbling block, the emotional pitch and the presentation of the subject matter fit the needs of a preschool audience. Internationally adopted children will likely identify with PanPan. Ages 3-5. (May)