Before You Were Born

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
Saport's intense, page-filling charcoal and pastel illustrations make this a beautiful book and help rescue it from a possible surfeit of sweetness. In a poetic text that repeats the pattern, "Before you were born...But when you arrived..." throughout, parents tell how the baby's arrival has changed their lives in positive ways. "Before you were born/ we thought we knew/ the hours of the brown owls in the woods/ and the seasons of the creatures./ But when you arrived/ even the old groundhog/ walked out of his winter sleep/ to greet you." Concluding with an afterword from Psalm 139 and the lines "All the days ordained for me were written/ in your book before one of them came to be," this colorful picture book is destined to be a new baby gift that will appeal to parents and also to young children when they begin to ask where they came from and what their parents did before they were born. 2002, Eerdmans,
— Linnea Hendrickson
School Library Journal
PreS-K-Psalm 139, as reprinted on the final page, serves as inspiration for this lyrical text. The pages are set up as a call and response: "Before you were born" followed by "But when you arrived." As such, the book captures the watchful waiting and final fulfillment that accompanies the birth experience. The words and imagery created are specific and yet broad based so that the book's theme is accessible and universal. There are references to God, an acknowledgment of a higher power: "Before you were born God wrote your days in a book." As much as the text is successful, it is the masterful collaboration of writer and artist that makes this title shine. The illustrations are bold and evocative. They focus on a single family, yet the people have harlequin faces, allowing them to be representative rather than ethnically specific. The pastel-and-charcoal mix creates wonderfully blended and vibrant colors. There is a round fullness to the pages and a fluidity of design that is soothing and satisfying. While the book is lovely, it is a better choice for new mothers to read to their infants, rather than one that young children will understand and enjoy. It is a celebration of life and of the bond that is created with each new birth.-Martha Topol, Traverse Area District Library, Traverse City, MI Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A luminescent tale extolling the miraculous changes wrought by an infant's arrival. Expanding upon the gently reassuring words of Psalm 139, Carlstrom (Glory, not reviewed, etc.) details the myriad ways in which a couple's life evolves with the birth of their child. Amid the references to God are more earthy allusions, both the heavens and the earth rejoice in the child; fish shimmer a hello, ducks quack their congratulations, while a great-grandmother croons a special song. "Her blessing song was like a star / rising to the heavens. / God must have smiled." Whether earthbound or spiritual, the verses marvel reverently at the wonder of a new life blooming. Effulgent imagery continually conveys the sense that this child is the beacon of its parents' universe, enveloping all in its radiance. Saport's (Tupag the Dreamer, not reviewed, etc.) pastel and charcoal illustrations convey the same lustrous quality as the poem. Broad, sweeping images fill the pages, depicting the softly rounded figures of the parents cradling their infant, expressing serenity through simple details such as peacefully closed eyes or slightly curving smiles. Rich hues of deep crimson, bright saffron, and vivid cobalt mingle together to create a vibrant setting for Carlstrom's affecting verses. A beautiful portrayal of the transformation of a couple into a family. (Picture book. 3-6)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802851857
  • Publisher: Eerdmans, William B. Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 2/28/2002
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 693,695
  • Age range: 1 - 5 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.20 (w) x 10.20 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 31, 2002

    Beautifully written book....

    I loved this book! I am expecting my first child in October and I needed something that I could read to my baby. This is perfect. I highly recommend it. The illustrations are lovely!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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