Wednesday 12 May 2021

Before You Were Born

Before You Were Born written by Katrina Germain, illustrated by Helene Magisson (Harper Collins Children’s Books) PB RRP $24.99 ISBN 978 1 876288150

Reviewed by Karen Hendriks

This gorgeous picture book celebrates the universal joy of new babies for all kinds of families. Before you Were Born is inclusive and captures within its pages the pure excitement and anticipation of the arrival of a baby. It has been created by the talented duo Katrina Germein and Helene Magisson with heart-warming tenderness and love.


Katrina Germein is a bestselling picture book author whose books have been published around the world. In this sweet book she has masterfully used rhyme in a whimsical yet powerful way. Before you were born and while you grew, there was a party just for you. Her words shower so much love to a new baby on the way that it feels like the new parents are speaking directly to the baby. I can picture this book being lovingly read to a baby bump and then once the baby arrives continued to be shared. Katrina raises all those little questions a new parent thinks about a baby. All talk of you and when you would come. Were you kicking inside? Or sucking your thumb? New parents do wonder and imagine what a baby is doing inside and what they will look like. The surprise is when the baby arrives but the joy of the impending arrival is the imagining. This is captured so perfectly by Katrina.


Helene Magisson is an award-winning illustrator. She started her artistic career as a painting restorer in Paris, where she also trained in the art of medieval illumination. Her style is unique and whimsical. Helene creates imaginary worlds that capture hearts. In Before You Were Born the cover depicts different families awaiting the arrival of their little one with so much delight and anticipation that you can’t help but want to pick up the book. The beige background allows the families to sparkle in colour. The endpapers are soft and gentle, like the book. Once we move into the double page spreads, colour bursts forth with the unique culture and home of each family. There is so much movement and detail that it is a delight to take time and fully appreciate each unique family. Magisson has cleverly brought so many extra layers of meaning to the story and so much diversity.

Before You Were Born is a picture book that is perfect for all families awaiting a new baby. I can picture this book on many nursery shelves and also being shared in many early learning places. This book is a lovely keepsake for any baby.

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