A sweet and lyrical new picture book takes us along with a diverse group of expecting families—including ones with two moms and two dads—as their babies-to-be grow from the size of a sweet pea to that of a pumpkin and then are born as their own delightful selves.
Wonderful You, written by Lisa Graff and illustrated by Ramona Kaulitski (Philomel Books), uses simple, soothing couplets to bring us on a journey with multiple families waiting for their new arrivals. Graff takes the fruit-and-vegetable comparison familiar from online pregnancy trackers and weaves it into a story of family anticipation and planning. We then see more parents-to-be, along with siblings, grandparents, and other relatives, as they wonder, wait, prepare nurseries, receive baby gifts, and dance in celebration.
One spread shows a two-dad couple and an older child poring over a book and a computer screen. It relates, “When you were a plum and we hadn’t a clue, we read and we researched and waited for you.” It’s an open question whether the family is using surrogacy, adoption, or other means.
In another spread, a two-mom family is viewing their ultrasound as the text tells us, “When you were a lemon, we followed your cue, we watched and we whispered and waited for you.”
The two moms are both Black. The two-dad couple is one of several interracial families in the book; one dad is Black and the other is likely White or Latino; their daughter has the latter’s tan skin tone. Other characters throughout the book have a variety of racial and ethnic identities. One dad-to-be uses a wheelchair as he brings a laundry basket of linens into the nursery. While most of the parents seem coupled, a few of the pregnant ones are positioned with others who could be extended family, not spouses/partners, leaving room for single parents to see themselves.
Kaulitski’s drawings are softly colorful and her people are happy and dynamic. Her inclusion of siblings and extended family remind us that it does often take the proverbial village, even before the child arrives. Each page also includes the relevant fruits and vegetables somewhere in the scene, which young readers should enjoy finding.
The babies eventually make their “debut,” and we see all of them in side-by-side bassinets bundled in brightly colored swaddling, sleeping peacefully or looking in wonder at the world. Gone are the produce analogies—Graff makes it clear now that “you’re utterly you.” The final spread shows them as young children, running and playing together, as the book ends with a message of unconditional love—past, present, and future—from parent to child.
This is a charming book that is bound to become a favorite gift for expecting parents in many types of families. The loving rhymes will likely make it a bedtime story to last for many years.
comes out August 18, but is available for preorder.
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