FICTION

Nine Months: Before a Baby Is Born

illus. by Jason Chin. 32p. bibliog. Holiday House/Neal Porter Bks. Apr. 2019. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780823441617.
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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.

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