Nine Months: Before a Baby Is Born

by Miranda Paul (Author) Jason Chin (Illustrator)

Nine Months: Before a Baby Is Born
Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade
Join a family of three who spend nine whole months waiting, from a frosty winter through a sun-dappled summer, until finally . . . a baby is here. A Boston Globe - Horn Book Honor RecipientAn Outstanding Science Trade Book for StudentsA Capitol Choices Noteworthy Title A soon-to-be big sister and her parents prepare for the arrival of a new baby in the family. Alternating panels depict what the family is experiencing in tandem with how the baby is growing, spanning everything from receiving the news about the new baby to the excitement of its arrival. In this pregnancy book unlike any other one out there, watch what's actually happening through meticulously detailed, actual size illustrations, perfectly paired with a lyrical yet informative text, and culminating in a warm, joyful birth scene. Complete with backmatter that includes an elaboration on pregnancy, a list of amazing things babies can do before they're born, and more, Miranda Paul and Caldecott Honor Artist Jason Chin deliver another spectacular nonfiction picture book. A Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the YearA Horn Book Best Book of the Year

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School Library Journal

K-Gr 4--Beginning with a fertilized egg ("Small. Ball. The point of a pin. Then it divides..."), Paul tracks the gestation of a human fetus in poetic yet matter-of-fact language. In exacting detail (later images are labeled "actual size"), Chin depicts the developing child at specified days or weeks on one side, while on the facing pages he follows a couple and their preschool-age daughter as they share a bilingual "new baby" book, visit the doctor to see an ultrasound image, go about daily routines in their suburban house, set up furniture and supplies, and finally gather with doting grandparents at the bed where mother and newborn baby girl nestle. The author expands on her terse narrative at the end in engaging observations that include notes on fetal hiccups, how taste buds develop immersed in amniotic fluid that is actually flavored by what the mother eats, what unborn children can sense, and other wonders--plus a brief, sensitive acknowledgement that miscarriages happen but it's nobody's fault. Sex at one end of the process and cesarean sections at the other go unmentioned. Though the bibliography leaves Robie H. Harris out of the mix, it does include several comprehensive resources for parents. VERDICT A bright, savvy heads-up for younger children in growing families; equally useful for shaping expectations and providing realistic glimpses of what's going on inside a pregnant person.--John Peters, Children's Literature Consultant, New York

Copyright 2019 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review

Realistic, light-infused paintings by Chin (Grand Canyon) and spare rhymes by Paul (Are We Pears Yet?) highlight a fetus's developmental milestones inside a mother's womb while outside, a family lovingly prepares, month by month, for the baby's arrival. Labeled illustrations of dividing cells, an embryo, then a fetus (depicted actual size from months four to nine) sit opposite inviting scenes of the family at the same stage getting ready to welcome its newest member. "Lips./ Flips./ Curve, dip, and groove./ She has a face./ She likes to move!" declares the "Month Five" spread, which attends the family assembling a crib. Along the way, the expecting parents proffer a "big sister" T-shirt to their preschool-age child, and mother and daughter share tender tummy-touching moments prior to the birth, which is marked by a close-up of the squalling newborn. Illustrated back matter explains the gestational stages in greater depth. Additional sections compare human and animal gestation spans and straightforwardly answer questions about multiple and premature births, as well as miscarriages. This appealing treatment of the subject strikes a perfect balance between biology--minus the birds and bees--and a gentle relevancy for young, soon-to-be siblings. Ages 4-8. (Apr.)

Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

★ "[T]his isn't just a story about the nine months of gestation; it's also a tale—told mostly with illustrations—of a family happily awaiting a baby's arrival. As left-hand pages track a zygote's transformation, first into an embryo (there's a tail!) and then into a fetus, right-hand pages show slice-of-life scenes of a mom, dad, and soon-to-be big sister (details in the watercolor and gouache illustrations indicate the family is Latinx). . . . During the third trimester, the left-hand illustrations begin to push onto the right-hand pages, ultimately taking over the entire double-page spread. It's another whimsical touch in this joyful celebration of the nine months leading up to a baby's birth."—The Horn Book, Starred Review

"[T]he real value lies in the blend of informational text and illustrations that will allow kids a concrete sense of the growth covertly occurring in the maternal abdomen. Chin's intrauterine illustrations start oversized . . . but the little one quickly catches up and art is to scale; then she begins to push across the spread gutters as her size becomes too large to be contained to a single page. The result is a solid family discussion starter about a possible new addition to the family that allows a listening kid to take the questions in a medical or emotional direction or both, and fascinated youngsters will pore over the growth scenes and be stunned by the information that they, too, started that way."—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

★ "This touching book describes milestones both inside and outside of a mother's belly over the course of nine months. . . . Children both young and old will be captivated by the details of fetal development and the story of a family preparing for and welcoming a new member."—Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review

"It's a riveting chronicle, full of wonderment and the kind of information that will allow even very young prospective brothers and sisters to track the progress of their own forthcoming siblings."—The Wall Street Journal

★ "Caldecott Honoree Chin's detailed gouache and watercolor illustrations skillfully depict the changes in the fetus month to month, they also show the family of three and their activities. Verso pages have drawings of the fetus developing while the recto pages show the family's movements as they wait and prepare for the new infant. Pictures of Month Four through Month Nine reveal the actual size of the growing baby, while the illustrations of the first three months tell what the size would be and show a magnified illustration."Booklist, Starred Review

★ "This appealing treatment of the subject strikes a perfect balance between biology—minus the birds and bees—and a gentle relevancy for young, soon-to-be siblings."Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

"A bright, savvy heads-up for younger children in growing families; equally useful for shaping expectations and providing realistic glimpses of what's going on inside a pregnant person."School Library Journal

"Nine Months is a beautifully balanced celebration and explanation of how babies develop in utero, and how families prepare, just right for siblings-to-be and their parents." —Shelf Awareness
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Neal Porter Books
Publication date
April 20, 2019

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