Picture Book Reviews: Before You Were Born & From 1 to 10

I have two fantastic new picture books on review today, courtesy of my lovely friends at Pajama Press! We’ll be taking a look at Deborah Kerbel and Suzanne Del Rizzo‘s Before You Were Born, and Mies van Hout‘s From 1 to 10. Happy reading!



“Before you were…
A song in our hearts,
A star in our eye,
A smile on our lips,
Shimmering skies…”

Deborah Kerbel and Suzanne Del Rizzo, who previously collaborated on the gorgeous picture book Sun Dog, return with Before You Were Born. A poetic, poignant, and harmonious ode to new life and family, Before You Were Born follows the changing seasons and various animals in the wild as parallels and reflections are made between the spectacular natural world around us and a couple about to welcome a new life. Picture books that celebrate babies and the welcome of a new family member walk a careful balance so as not to veer into the saccharine; Deborah Kerbel’s lyrical text reads as so very sweet and sincere while still feeling soft, gentle, and controlled…in other words, just right. The rhyming and appealingly melodic text reads effortlessly and allows Before You Were Born to work as a read aloud, gentle nighttime story, or as a lullaby. As ever, author-illustrator Suzanne Del Rizzo’s polymer clay and acrylic paint artwork- on display in other books like My Beautiful Birds– is stunningly beautiful and inviting, so intricate, and awe-inspiring! For interested readers, you could try pairing Before You Were Born with similarly-themed and/or lyrical books such as Little You, We Sang You Home, Wish, or When You Were Small for an extra snuggly and heartfelt reading experience.

Spread from Before You Were Born via Pajama Press


Author-illustrator Mies van Hout (Friends, Happy) brings readers another joyously bright and engaging book with From 1 to 10. A wonderfully colourful, appealing, and spare counting book, van Hout draws and holds the readers’ attention with clear, highlighted numbers and descriptors, and super artwork.  From ‘1 belly’ on a huggable bear, ‘4 wings’ on a vivid butterfly, to ‘7 stripes’ on a beaming fish, the counting examples and accompanying illustrations are eye-catching and invite young readers to touch the page, explore, and practice their counting (or observations). From 1 to 10 also offers thicker, sturdier pages- not board book density- but heavier, easier to grasp, glossy pages (like nicely weighted card stock), which makes this a winner for the littlest readers as well as preschoolers. Be sure to also check out the notes at the book’s end: five different counting activities to go along with the book are offered to help children “achieve a real understanding of numbers”. I love when a concept book surprises and delights with something that feels fresh and inviting, and Mies van Hout’s From 1 to 10– a recipient of a few starred reviews!- is a real standout in a busy field of early counting books.

Spread from From 1 to 10 via Pajama Press

I received copies of these titles courtesy of Pajama Press in exchange for honest reviews. All opinions and comments are my own. Titles have been published and are currently available. 

Author: michelle@fabbookreviews

Reference & Children's Librarian. Reader. Reviewer.

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