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Sweet Moon Baby: An Adoption Tale by Karen Henry Clark, illustrated by Patrice Barton

This is an adoption story that takes a more fairy tale approach.  In China, perfect baby is born.  However, her parents don’t have enough food for themselves and worry about the future of this tiny baby.  So they put trust in the moon and send their baby away down the river.  On the journey, several animals help that baby.  While she sleeps, she is carried by a turtle, flown high by a peacock, sheltered by a monkey, and guided by a panda.   On the other side of the world, a family is waiting for a child.  While they wait, they prepare for her.  They create a garden, plant trees, build her a room, and fill it with pretty things and lots of books.  They know she is there, but where?  They travel long distances following the moon’s path.  And when the moon paths of the baby and the family meet, so do they.

So often adoption books are about the concrete steps taken from one family to the next.  It is a pleasure to read a book that is whimsical and magical about adoption.  Clark’s writing celebrates the connection between child and new family while paying homage to the birth family as well.  The entire book is suffused in a gentle beauty that allows anyone reading to know immediately that this is a joyous tale. 

Barton’s illustrations are particularly fine.  From the first two-page spread of the new baby and her bright-eyed beauty, the illustrations are captivating.  They have a subtle humor to them as well as a soft touch that matches the tone of the book.  Done in sketches and then digitally, the images have interesting textures.

A very successful fairy-tale telling of the adoption story, this book may not answer the questions of how an adoption takes place, but it does speak to the magical nature of love.  Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from Knopf Delacorte Dell.