Before You Were Born Reviews

School Library Journal

Cover: Before You Were Born Author: Deborah Kerbel Illustrator: Suzanne Del Rizzo Publisher: Pajama Press“A gorgeous, captivating, and moving story, this book will touch the hearts and mesmerize the eyes of readers both young and old. VERDICT New parents will love reading this book as they prepare for and welcome new additions to their home. Additionally, art students will relish the complexity and unique nature of the presentation.”
—Mary Lanni, Denver Public Library

Read the full review in the May 2019 issue of School Library Journal

Publishers Weekly

“Kerbel’s lullabylike verses draw allusions between moments in nature and a family’s anticipation of a new baby…Del Rizzo brings eye-catching allure to Kerbel’s wistful welcome.”

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“There are a slew of books told from the point of view of a parent to a new baby. This differentiates itself with three-dimensional illustrations created with clay and acrylics, which gives it a distinctive look….The depth and intricate detail of the pictures invite a second look, especially when watching the seasons change from fall to winter to summer—leaves fall, snow covers branches, and butterflies appear. A sweet addition to the genre.”
—Ilene Cooper

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Kirkus Reviews

“[T]he metaphors will surely strike a chord…And the ending is both beautifully illustrated and poignant…Del Rizzo’s polymer clay–and–acrylic wash artwork is the star here, adding texture and depth to the scenes, which show animals, many with babies, in their natural habitats.”

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Midwest Book Review

“A unique and charmingly presented picture book story for children ages 4-7, Before You Were Born will prove to be an enduringly popular and appreciated addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library collections.”

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CM Magazine

“This breathtaking weave of prose and stunning artwork pulls at the heartstrings from start to finish. Following the seasons found in nature, the reader meets several animals that live near the family’s seaside home. The text is written in the form of a love letter from expectant parents to their new arrival. A young child would rejoice in the love that oozes from this book to know that s/he was, in fact, special, loved and greatly anticipated before s/he was even born….

Suzanne Del Rizzo illustrates each animal with immaculate detail and grace….Not only are the animals displayed in great beauty, but so are the scenes in which they live, such as the forest of silver birches, fields of wildflowers, the calm waters reflecting the sunset and the mist resting on a fresh stream.

Overall, an expectant couple will relate to the many feelings of anticipation and love as they read the velvety prose and feast upon the artwork….These often-indescribable feelings are celebrated within this text and fully put into words what so many new parents are trying to explain. Beautifully, the changes in season also reflect the change coming soon for their family, yet it is not portrayed as negative or uncertain but instead shows how seasons of life come and go in unique beauty.

Highly Recommended.”
—Johanna Beaumont

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Resource Links

“Rating: G…Del Rizzo’s polymer clay and acrylic paint illustrations look beautiful and realistic on the double page spreads throughout the book. The ground, the skies, the shadows, and the closeups of the animals on the land and in the sea are mesmerizing in their attention to detail….

This would make a fantastic baby shower gift or a good choice to read to a child to remind them about how much they are loved.”
—Tanya Boudreau

Read the full review on page 4 of the April 2019 issue of Resource Links

Canadian Children’s Book News

“Kerbel’s poetic text is lyrical and rhythmic, at times lifting us up and carrying us along with its joy and grace, and then settling us down in quiet reflection and love. Del Rizzo’s gorgeous illustrations, rendered in polymer clay and acrylic wash, perfectly embody the tone of the text and double-page spreads embrace us with beauty, texture and depth.”
—Ken Kilback is a writer and primary teacher in Vancouver

Read the full review in the Winter 2019 issue of Canadian Children’s Book News

Kids’ BookBuzz

“We rated this book: [5/5]. Before You Were Born is the sweetest book I have ever read….The pictures are beautiful, and the message is great. I am so excited for the whole world to get to read this beautiful book….A beautiful, lovely, gorgeous, elaborate tale of the life of nature, the glory of seasons, and the beauty of human beings.”
—Alexandria, Age 7

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CanLit for LittleCanadians

“Books are wildly popular baby shower gifts and Before You Were Born will be a hit with parents and children alike so consider it your future go-to book for celebrating an upcoming birth.

In gorgeous spreads of polymer clay illustrations by Suzanne Del Rizzo, animals including humans, foxes, bears, deer, whales and birds like the northern flicker are seen to make their homes but it’s all about the anticipation of new arrivals….

This is the second collaboration for Deborah Kerbel and Suzanne Del Rizzo. Their first book together, Sun Dog (Pajama Press, 2018), is charming young readers as a Blue Spruce award nominee and Before You Were Born will undoubtedly captivate young children and the parents who adore them.

Dedicate a new birth with Before You Were Born, a book that is born in a celebration of life.”

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Mrs. Book Dragon

“Absolutely breathtaking, stunning, gorgeous, and brought tears to my eyes….When a book keeps you thinking and makes you want to shout it from the rooftop, you know it is a good one….Once you see the descriptive language with the beautiful illustrations, you will be hooked and understand why I think this book is the most beautiful thing I have seen.”

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Sal’s Fiction Addiction

“In this welcome lullaby for a new baby, Ms. Kerbel links nature with the patience needed for parents anticipating its arrival….

The artwork is created in polymer clay, acrylic paint, and other media with the same skill that Ms. Del Rizzo has shown in her previous works. They are exceptional in color, texture and design. The double page spreads show a seaside cottage, the surrounding forest, pond, meadow, and the wide expanses of sky at night and during the day. The animals and settings are detailed, realistic and beautiful to see.”

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Fab Book Reviews

“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…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.”

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Working Mommy Journal

“There is nothing more exciting in the world than when you are pregnant and expecting a child. It is full of excitement, worry, love, wonder and appreciation of the world around you….This beautiful book describes the wealth of emotions that you feel during the time…

The beautiful illustrations mirror the emotions and evolving seasons as the parents wait for their child to join them. I loved their texture and design, which added even more depth to the story as it holds its own story within the story.

This is a beautiful book for new parents, that will make an excellent baby shower gift for first and second time parents. It will be a gift to treasure for years to come.”

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Canadian Bookworm

“This lovely book is a perfect gift for a new mother or father, and a perfect bedtime read for a little one, sending them to sleep with lovely images and the comfort of knowing how much they are loved….

I loved this author/illustrator combination in a previous book Sun Dog, and this book was even better. The lyricism of Kerbel’s words is beautiful, each phrase of anticipation leading you on to the next page. It just flows and the words are full of love….Del Rizzo’s 3D illustrations using polymer clay bring everything to life…”

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