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'The Baby Tree' by Sophie Blackall: A much-needed picture book for parents

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The Baby Tree by Sophie Blackall

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Sophie Blackall gets it just right in her picture book "The Baby Tree." It's the story of a small boy who finds out that his mother is having a baby. He wants to know where babies come from, and everyone he asks has a different answer.

One person tells him babies come from an egg. Another says babies come from a seed; his grandfather says that the stork brings babies. So the boy, who narrates in first person, finally asks his parents.

And his parents explain very simply and very tactfully where babies come from. They explain about the seed from the dad and the egg from the mom and how that baby grows for nine months until it runs out of room and then is ready to be born.

He realizes that most of what he was told is true in part -- except for Grandpa. "I'm going to have to tell Grandpa where babies really come from," is perhaps the cutest line in the book. Kids will enjoy seeing the grownup getting it wrong.

There is also a Q & A at the end for additional help when inquisitive minds want to know more. Like "How does the seed get from the dad into the mom?" And the answers are really well done. Take it from someone whose precocious daughter asked in first grade, "How are babies born REALLY?" She wanted details. I wish I had this book then.

The illustrations are lovely, and Blackall is able to create movement with her drawings. The emotion of the narrator comes through the variety of illustrations. Some are full page while others are little vignettes of individual figures.

This book is a must-have for all parents. Eventually most kids are going to want to know about how they arrived -- or how a new sibling was created -- and this book is an extremely useful (and enjoyable) tool to begin the discussion.

Please note: This review is based on the F&G provided by the publisher, Nancy Paulsen, for review purposes.

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