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Matt Cordell personally knows what it's like to wish. In fact, this book is the heartfelt windfall of him waiting for his wish come true a second time. Other books Matt has written and illustrated include hello! hello!, Another Brother, and Trouble Gum. He lives in Chicago with his wife, a young daughter, and an even younger son. Visit matthewcordell.com to learn more.
A much-wanted child arrives as fulfillment of his parents' dearest wish. Neither a where-do-babies-come-from book nor one about sibling adjustment to a new baby, this fanciful treatment of parental longing for a baby seems aimed at adults more than children. The text is delivered in direct address to an unnamed "you" who's at first absent from the would-be parents' lives. Perhaps in an attempt to tilt the story toward child-friendliness, the adults in question are an anthropomorphic elephant couple. As they begin to notice others with babies (birds in a nest, another elephant pushing a stroller), they start to wish, plan, learn and build. Pictures eschew crib-assembly or other traditional baby-planning preparations to show the couple building a boat and setting sail, as if for some island cabbage patch where they might find an elephant's child. In a poignant twist, the journey doesn't immediately fulfill their baby wish, and they return home saddened but resilient. When a baby does arrive, suddenly parting the seas like a tiny pachyderm Moses in a sailboat, the parents are thrilled that their baby is "HERE." The metaphorical use of boats and journeying to find a baby could lend itself to interpretations of the story as an adoption narrative, but this isn't clearly indicated. Instead, cartoony art and spare text alike are most concerned with communicating longing and love. Wish fulfilled, if a tad inscrutably. (Picture book. 3-5) Kirkus" Cordell's (Rooting for You) intensely personal account of parents awaiting the arrival of a child bubbles over with anticipatory joy. He draws, in his loopy pen-and-ink style, two elephants who live in a house by the ocean. Their new baby sets sail toward them from a tropical island, and they build a boat of their own to meet the baby. At sea, they send forth a beam of rainbow-colored love, but something goes wrong: "We listen.... And we wait... but you never come. And everything stops." A poignant spread shows the elephants embracing on the deck of their boat under the stars, trunks pressed together in disappointment. While adults can read between the lines (many things can go wrong for couples expecting a child), it's a moment that may call for some explanation and reassurance for younger readers. At last, though, the baby elephant's boat arrives in triumph: "You are here." It's easy for parents to forget to tell their children how much they longed for them to be born; Cordell provides words and pictures to help. Ages 3 5. PW" This deceptively simple picture book packs an emotional wallop. A very content, very compatible elephant couple quietly go about their lives, planning and building, but come to realize that something is missing: "We think of you." They determine that they are ready for chance, so they alter their plans and start making preparations for a new arrival. "But you never come. And everything stops." Simple declarative sentences continue the narrative, as the elephant couple patiently wait. Happily, a baby finally arrives with an earth-shaking rumble and a roar of joy and contentment. The soft watercolor and pen-and-ink illustrations complement the wistful, quiet tone. Very young audiences will appreciate this confirmation of parental love and being part of a family, while older siblings will likely pick up on feelings of impatience or anticipation when preparing for the arrival of new family members. Not many picture books address the challenges of childbearing, and this may resonate for families who struggled to have children. Readers of all ages will appreciate the combined messages of affirmation, hope, and reassurance. Kathleen McBroom Booklist" PRAISE FOR HELLO! HELLO! "This wry object lesson blends clever design and a sincere, never-preachy delivery. Terrific! "--Kirkus (starred review) PRAISE FOR HELLO! HELLO! "This wry object lesson blends clever design and a sincere, never-preachy delivery. Terrific! "--Kirkus (starred review) PRAISE FOR HELLO! HELLO! "This wry object lesson blends clever design and a sincere, never-preachy delivery. Terrific! " "Kirkus (starred review)""