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Before You Came

Overview

Before you came . . .

This gentle, wonder-filled celebration is the perfect book for parents, children, and all those who have discovered the joy of sharing their world with someone new.

Luminous artwork by Caldecott Medalist David Diaz brings vibrant life to this lyrical reflection by the mother-daughter writing team of Newbery Medalist Patricia MacLachlan and Emily MacLachlan Charest.

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Overview

Before you came . . .

This gentle, wonder-filled celebration is the perfect book for parents, children, and all those who have discovered the joy of sharing their world with someone new.

Luminous artwork by Caldecott Medalist David Diaz brings vibrant life to this lyrical reflection by the mother-daughter writing team of Newbery Medalist Patricia MacLachlan and Emily MacLachlan Charest.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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.)
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
In poetic language, a loving mother tells her child about her life "before you came." She describes her house, the canoe she paddled down the river, her garden, her cat who brought her three kittens, a dog, and birds at the bird feeder. The father played music while she read, as the baby grew within her. When the child is born, "...all the things I had before you came are for you," she notes, from the house to the songs of the father. "I used to think I had everything. And now I do. I have you." Diaz chooses hues suggesting a fuzzy peach, or purple grapes, or spring greenery. Objects seem stenciled onto the background colors; the parents and pets superimposed on the double pages. His usual bold outlines and decorative details convey the sense of romantic, peaceful interaction between the characters and nature. This is a reassuring, loving tone poem in both words and pictures. Parents could add their own details of their lives before the arrival of the child. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
PreS-K—What distinguishes this title from the crowded shelf of books declaring the depths of maternal love? A tropical feel; a sun-drenched, yellow aura around people and objects; and Diaz's brilliant hues and decorative style. Each spread contains a sentence or two listing image-laden activities a mother enjoyed before the birth of her daughter: "I had a red canoe. When I paddled downriver, swallows dipped and swooped, catching bugs just above the water...Before you came, I had music. Your father played the guitar for me." When the baby arrives, these things are introduced and shared with her. Diaz continues his practice of showing faces in profile. The rosy faces and hands are the only surfaces not covered with arabesques and patterns. The sky, trees, cat, canoe—all are adorned with or composed of screened or fully saturated designs. Vibrant pinks, magentas, and oranges contrast with deeper greens and blues. The monologue includes an enthusiastic plug for books and reading: "All day long. All night long if you want." This will likely find an audience with expectant and new mothers. There may be those, however, who find it difficult to relate to the idyllic lifestyle.—Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060512347
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 2/8/2011
  • Pages: 30
  • Sales rank: 1,351,465
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.06 (w) x 10.16 (h) x 0.38 (d)

Meet the Author

Patricia MacLachlan is the celebrated author of many beloved books for young readers, including Sarah, Plain and Tall, winner of the Newbery Medal. Her picture books include Who Loves Me?, Three Names, What You Know First, and All the Places to Love. She lives with her husband and two border terriers in Williamsburg, Massachusetts.

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