Sonderbooks Book Review of

The Story I'll Tell

by Nancy Tupper Ling

illustrations by Jessica Lanan

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The Story I'll Tell

by Nancy Tupper Ling
illustrations by Jessica Lanan

Review posted August 24, 2016.
Lee & Low Books, New York, 2015. 32 pages.

You couldn’t ask for a more beautiful book for families who have adopted children to provide a context for telling their own adoption story.

This book, with lovely watercolor illustrations, is about a brown mother and white father who have adopted a baby from China.

As the book begins, the mother, sitting cozy with her son next to her and a large book open, says:

Someday when you ask where you came from,
I’ll tell you a story.

What follows are several fanciful scenarios, which all slip in how loved this child is.

“No, not a horseman,” I’ll say. “An angel. That’s who brought you.”

Wrapped in her arms, you followed a trail of lanterns around the world until you reached our doorstep.

I’ll always wonder how she picked our home. We don’t have fancy gates or marble stairs, but she found the perfect place for you.

How your eyes sparkled when I first saw you.

Sometimes the stories are quite simple, and sometimes very imaginative.

Perhaps we were walking on the beach at night, and you floated in on a wave.

No, not a wave! I’d say there was a dragon queen who kept you by the sea to raise you as her own. I heard cooing sounds calling to me.

I waited until the dragon queen fell asleep. Then I tiptoed inside and rescued you from her dark cave.

But she finally gets to the real story.

“Not true!” you’ll say when I tell these tales. And I’ll smile, because it will be hard to fool the brightest child in the world.

She keeps the real story as lovely as the imaginative ones, involving a flight through the sky and a picture of the baby looking out a plane window. On the ground, they are greeted by loving relatives and friends. Though the baby cries “for things lost and new,” the mother knows “you were the best gift we ever received.”

This is simply a lovely choice, especially for adoptive families.