This spring we've made it our mission (even more than usual) to celebrate new releases in the wake of cancelled launch parties, book festivals, and reading series. With 49th Shelf Launchpad, we're holding virtual launch parties here on our platform complete with witty banter and great insight to give you a taste of the books on offer. You can request these books from your local library, get them as e-books or audio books, order them from your local indie bookseller if they're delivering, buy them direct from the publisher or from online retailers.
Today we're launching new picture book Born, by John Sobol and Cindy Derby, a beautiful story celebrating the ordinary miracle of life.
The Elevator Pitch. Tell us about your book in a sentence.
Born is about the magical journey of birth as it is experienced by a baby, beginning with the baby patiently waiting inside her mother to be born and filled with curiosity about the world she hears and feels, and ending with mother and child looking lovingly into each other’s eyes for the first time.
Describe your ideal reader.
The ideal reader for this book is anyone who has ever been born. However, Born is intended above all to be read aloud by a mother to her young children. Kleenex not included.
What authors/books is your work in conversation with?
Both David Copperfield and The Shaman’s Nephew: A Life in the Far North, (a remarkable memoir by Inuit artist Simon Tookome) begin with their authors describing their own births. I have enjoyed both of those books, so maybe Born could be said to be in conversation with them? At the very least I recommend them both.
What is something interesting you learned about your book/yourself/your subject during the process of creating and publishing your book?
Born has its roots in a ecstatic moment of recognition that I experienced many years ago as a young backpacker who found himself sitting alone late one night in Cairo by the banks of the Nile river. At that particular time I was in rough shape—broke, feverish and without a visa—yet as I rested gratefully beneath the bright moon and the palm trees I felt myself suddenly transported back to my mother’s womb. Sitting in that ancient place I had an unmistakable and deeply immersive sensation of my self before I was born, and that powerful experience has stayed with me ever since.
Later I supported my amazing wife Annie through her pregnancies and witnessed the birth of our two children, Sophie and Louis. I wanted to celebrate these experiences in a unique story that would allow mothers and their young children to remember and celebrate the extraordinary intimacy of their shared birth experience.
Born’s dust jacket refers to your story as a "lyrical poem." Is it a poem?
Absolutely. I didn’t write that blurb but I was pleased when I saw it because I am first and foremost a poet and I do think of this story as a poem, and a lyrical poem at that.
An important part of any book launch are the thank you’s. Go ahead, and acknowledge someone whose support has been integral to this project.
I would like to thank the three mothers without whom Born would never have existed. My mom, Julie Macfie Sobol, my wife Annie Hillis, and my publisher, the late Sheila Barry, who decided immediately upon reading this story over breakfast in a café that she would publish it. And so she has. Thank you all!
I would also like to thank Cindy Derby for creating such lovely illustrations for Born.
What are you reading right now or next?
I’m looking forward to reading Cory Doctorow’s latest book Radicalized. I’ve read 4 or 5 of his other novels and they are all tremendously good. He’s very underappreciated. His books are called YA novels but I think mostly that is because they always feature young people as protagonists. Really they are just excellent novels, period.
In this lyrical poem, author John Sobol brings us his imagined vision of a universal experience, that of being born. As she is born, the baby in this story goes through a time of intense movement and change before she takes her first breath and cries. Warm hands wrap her in a blanket, and she is held in loving arms. She has arrived!
Sobol captures the mystery and wonder of the birth experience in this deeply sympathetic tale. Reading this book together will enable children and their parents to celebrate the joy and emotional power of that remarkable moment.
Cindy Derby’s soft, gentle illustrations beautifully complement the poem.
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