Quill and Quire

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Where You Came From

by Sara O’Leary; Julie Morstad, illus.

Anyone picking up Where You Came From expecting a scientifically solemn and medically correct account of the facts of life for pre-schoolers is in for a surprise. In this, a follow-up to Sara O’Leary and Julie Morstad’s previous collaboration, When You Were Small, Mother and Father offer alternate replies to Henry’s recurring question, “Where did I come from?” Their fanciful responses touch delicately on many different baby myths, from the infant found in the bulrushes to delivery by fairies or a flock of crows (on a day the stork called in sick), from growing in the garden and falling from a star or spaceship to being carved from wood like Pinocchio. Each whimsical answer is given fondly, and many are quite funny.

Lest an anxious adult reader feel that the child is being misled by fantasy, each playful account is contradicted by the other parent with an equally comical alternative, until at last the parents agree: “Your mother and I both dreamt you. And then you came true…. First there were two of us and then we were three.”

Sara O’Leary has a supple style which conveys the fondness in the parents’ teasing, and rises to a moment of real poetry at the end. Her text is well matched with the gentle-coloured line drawings of Julie Morstad, which show baby Henry confidently beginning life in various absurd situations – even peering out of a mailbox, or balanced on top of tins of food on sale in the supermarket – innocent and ready to greet the world.