"This fanciful book makes a great big-brother big-sister gift. A follow up to the best selling "When You Were Small" comes "Where You Came From." Julie Morstad’s beautiful illustrations accompany each hilarious scenario by Sara O’Leary. - Bundle Baby Blog
Susan Perren’s Top 10 for ’08, Globe and Mail - “Playful, delightful picture book offers a number of possibilities about a small child's provenance."
Little Henry is always full of questions, but one in particular—”Where did I come from?”—he ponders again and again. Evoking folklore, fairy tales, Bible stories, and pure silliness, his parents offer various explanations for his arrival. Perhaps the young boy was grown in his mother’s garden, carved out of wood in his father’s workshop, floating down the river in a basket, or even plucked from the sale bin at the supermarket. Depicted simply sleeping in a bed together with baby Henry floating above them, the parents remember that they both dreamt of their son, adding “And then you came true.”
The infant Henry is shown riding the tail of a falling star, being carried by dozens of Lilliputian-sized fairies, and nestled in a mailbox with “special delivery” stamps. These full-page illustrations with ample white space, crosshatched line illustrations, and delicate, minimal watercolors elicit both a soothing mood and retro feel. The book’s style and appearance are similar to its earlier companion title, When You Were Small. A teacher of children’s writing at Concordia University at Montreal, Canadian author Sara O’Leary is also a playwright, fiction writer, and literary columnist. Julie Morstad works as an illustrator for both children’s and adult books, as well as in animation and design.
This gentle picture book may be used to satisfy the curiosity of very young children who have begun to ask the age-old question or as a discussion starter for children who are ready for a more complete answer. Where You Came From would also make a handsome gift for new parents awaiting their own dream to come true. (October)
Q & Q
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.
The Georgia Straight
"This is destined to become a classic. It's beautifully illustrated by Vancouver artist Julie Morstad. For authors and illustrators, publishing with Simply Read means a beautiful, unique, and collectible finished product. The author understands books that are read out loud again and again. In response to their little boy's questions about where he came from, two parents offer him different funny scenarios (he floated in on a red balloon, he was seen in a window full of puppies or spotted in an eagle's nest, and so on). The ending will be a tear-jerker for any reader: 'It was quite simple. Your mother and I both dreamt you. And then you came true.'"
The second collaborative work from the author/illustrator team of Montreal based Sara O’Leary and Vancouver artist Julie Morstad, Where You Came From adopts a playful approach to answering the inevitable question: Where did I come from? Rather than glossing over the question with a hopeful “Well, um… er… hey, lets see what’s on t.v., shall we?” Henry’s parents come up with a myriad of beautiful and entertaining alternatives to the too graphic, and likely premature, truth. Julie Morstad (one of my absolute favourite Vancouver artists) provides amazing artwork for this sweet story. Perfect for parents of newborns, children up to 4. - Michelle Sproule
This likable picture book opens with Henry, an inquisitive little boy, asking the question many parents fear: 'Where did I come from?'
His mother and father respond in a number of imaginative and fantastical ways (we grew you on a plant/we found you in the mailbox/we made you out of wood), until they confess that they actually dreamed of a baby and their wish had come true.
This is a simple text with a myriad of answers to the age-old question: 'Where did I come from?' O'Leary tackles this question with much aplomb and humour, ably assisted by Morstad's beautiful illustrations. Children will adore the humor in this book and wonder whether they too were found by their parents in a bird's nest or floating through the air holding on to a giant red balloon. The book is good for read-aloud, and will enchant groups of younger elementary students, who will enjoy thinking of other ways in which they were 'made.'
The book itself is beautifully made; the binding is of high quality, and the muted color illustrations make for a wonderful read. This is not an essential purchase for the school library, but the book would make an wonderful gift for a newborn, or new parents. Thematic Link: Family - Claire Hazzard
www.dooce.com - December 15, 08
Many readers have sent me books to help with explaining to Leta how the baby got inside my tummy, and this book, Where You Came From by Sara O'Leary, is one of my favorites. Inside there are no cows humping other cows or pictures of sperm swimming toward a woman's ovaries, and instead there are playful illustrations depicting possible explanations, like a baby in a sale bin at the grocery store or parachuting from a spaceship. I love the answer at the end, and I won't give it away, but I think it's perfect for beginning the discussion with a four-year-old.
Given the quality and success of Sara O'Leary and Julie Morstad's collaboration on When You Were Small, I was delighted to see them join forces again for a sequel—Where You Came From.
In Where You Came From, the inquisitive young Henry asks his parents about where he came from. Rather than beginning to quiver at the knees at the prospect of a "birds and bees" talk, Henry's playful parents take Henry's question as the ideal set-up for them to have some fun. Each parent seemingly is bent on trying to outdo the other with a series of preposterously imaginative scenarios for Henry's origins. His father says that a flock of crows delivered Henry. No, says his mother, fairies delivered Henry. No, says Henry's father, Henry was found floating down a river in a basket. Each suggestion is wilder, and funnier, than its predecessor.
The award winning, When You Were Small, was also short-listed for the 2007 Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Illustrator's Award, one of the most prestigious awards in Canadian children's literature. I think that the sequel is even better, although I think the improvement is primarily in the text. Morstad's illustrations retain the same high quality of When You Were Small, but O'Leary's writing is stronger in the sequel. O'Leary's acute sense of humour seems sharper in Where You Came From, and I also think that the first and last page of text provide a better framework for a more complete and satisfying story than is the case in the first book.
O'Leary's text is concise, but one must admire the fact that she can cram so many laughs into so few words. Despite the overtly humorous tone to the writing, O'Leary's text manages to retain a satisfyingly mild feel that is in perfect harmony with the equally humorous but gentle book illustrations. This "gentleness" is important because, although Henry's parents are teasing, they are doing so in a playful, and definitely not hurtful or spiteful, manner. The age-appropriate softness of the book is facilitated, in part, through the inclusion of such things as butterflies, fairies, balloons and puppies. In addition to adding movement, the swirling, circular or curved lines of the artwork further add to the gentle feel to the book.
Morstad's charming illustrations employ soft colours and most often depict the baby Henry naked but for a diaper. In each illustration, Morstad also uses lines to add texture, shading and contrast to the artwork.
Sara O'Leary and Julie Morstad are an imaginative, artistic pair, and they work together very well. The work of one complements the work of the other, and, together, the sum of the parts—the text and the illustrations—is considerably stronger than one part alone. Simply Read Books are to be congratulated on the sturdy and durable presentation of Where You Came From. The strong binding, heavy cover and thick paper suggest this is a book made to last, despite repeated handlings from inquisitive young children and their parents or grandparents. Where You Came From might not serve as a substitute for the big "birds and bees" talk, but, if you have young children in your home, this is a book not to miss.
Crooked House - Stephany Aulenback
Sara's first book When You Were Small is, I think, my very favorite picture book. It is exactly the sort of thing, sweet and funny, that I wish I'd written. And Where You Came From is just as lovely in every way. This time Henry wants to know where he came from -- but his parents are having a bit of trouble remembering. They come up with all sorts of whimsical and amusing suggestions ("Your mother found you at the supermarket. She had no idea why you were in the sale bin. There was absolutely nothing wrong with you.") until they settle on one that seems just right. Luke's favourite part is Julie Morstad's illustration of a baby Henry growing out of a plant in the garden. My favorite part is, as the kids say, the whole thing. I've decided that all the kids on my Christmas list are getting this book. Now we've just go to hurry up and wait for the next one in the series.
Call us selfish, but we have a shelf of our favorite children's books that are hands off. We look forward to reading them with our son, but we'd like to safeguard them from chewing, tearing and sticky fingers. Where You Came From by Sara O'Leary (along with her first book, When You Were Small) will find a home on this shelf of treasures.
O'Leary has teamed up with artist Julie Morstad and together they've created another sweet, charming tale starring an inquisitive young boy, Henry, and his parents who try to outdo themselves with humorous explanations for Henry's origins.
Morstad's prints are much sought after so having an entire book of her work is a joy and they're a perfect compliment to O'Leary's delightful narrative.
"Where did I come from?" Henry asks. His parents answer his question with a series of playful stories. Adults will grin at the many references to common birth mythologies, such as a cabbage-patch baby, a wooden child come to life, and a mail delivery with no return address marked "handle with care." Whimsical pen-and-ink drawings with watercolor accents and a lovely minimalist design complement simple, poetic text. - School Library Journal
"Every night Henry asks his father to tell him about when he was small. His father tells him how he was so small he used to fit in a shirt pocket, wear a thimble for a hat, battle chess pieces and walk his pet ant. Julie Morstad's sweet and delicate illustrations enhance this imaginative story."
Say Yes! to Hoboken Blog
I always like to buy a new stack of books this time of year for Henry's birthday and Christmas. This is one of my very favorite books,Where You Came From by Sara O'Leary. The little boy's name is Henry (!) and it's a really sweet, beautifully written, and gorgeously illustrated discussion between the mother, father and son as they try to remember where he came from, "Don't you remember? Your mother grew you in her garden. She said the hardest part was waiting, be patient, stopping herself from picking you too soon".
I'd highly recommend it for a young child or toddler whose too young for the real birds and bees talk. A friend recommended it to us a year ago and I still can't get through it without tearing up a little bit. It's so sweet.