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If You Were Born a Kitten

by Marion Dane Bauer
Illustrated by JoEllen McAllister Stammen

Published by Simon & Schuster, 1997
32 pages
ISBN: 0-689-80111-4

Ages 1 - 4

If you were born a kitten, you'd slip into the world in a silvery sac, and your mother would lick, lick, lick your face," begins this comforting, child-centered explanation of birth. Each subsequent page follows the same pattern, prodding young imaginations to think about starting out in life as a seahorse, a chick, a porcupine, a whale, an opossum, a snake, a bear cub, a deer mouse, an elephant, and a tadpole, before ending on a completely realistic note: "You rode curled beneath your mother's heart, growing and growing. You floated in a salty sea, waiting and waiting. Waiting for us, who were waiting for you. 'We're ready,' we said. And you were ready, too. So you squeezed out, wailing." The accompanying illustration, showing a human mother embracing her newborn baby, is exactly life-size. Detailed, realistic paintings fill every double-page spread to give viewers a close-up look at each newborn animal with its parent, shortly after birth, and focuses on the adult animal's response to the newborn, rather than the birth itself. The book's large size, clear illustrations and lyrical text make it perfect for reading aloud to groups of preschoolers; they will most likely be as interested in seeing and hearing about the various animals as they will be in the subject matter as a whole. Highly Commended, Charlotte Zolotow Award CCBC categories: Books for Babies and Toddlers; The Natural World.  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

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