Schwartz and Wade; 2009; Ages 4-8
“I mark a circle on the calendar. I have ten days and nine nights.” So begins the daily countdown of Ten Days and Nine Nights: An Adoption Story, as a soon-to-be older sibling waits for her new sister to come home. At the airport, there’s a hug and kiss goodbye, as Mommy boards the plane to Korea. At home, every passing day brings another round of activity: There’s artwork to do, a room to decorate, and a baby doll with which to practice her big-sister skills. Everyone is getting ready to welcome home the new little one: Daddy buys a crib, Grandma sews a pink dress. As each busy day draws to a close, the little girl gets to mark a big, red X on her calendar.
Mommy, meanwhile, meets the people at the adoption agency, and, with smiles all around, she finally meets her new daughter. There’s a happy trip home, and more smiles as the expectant family gathers at the airport to greet Mommy and the baby, who’s tucked into her carrier. A very proud big sib announces simply, “I have a new baby sister.”
Yumi Heo, the Korean-born author and illustrator of Ten Days and Nine Nights, offers our families a simple, sweet, and endearing picture book. Her quirky, lively drawings are the perfect complement to each page’s spare one or two lines of text. I like that the narrator is excited to fill a new, more mature role in the family. I also like the ambiguity of the family. We don’t know whether the big sister was adopted or not (and it doesn’t make any difference to the story), nor do we know the family’s ethnicity.
Such details may not seem important, but, having read hundreds of adoption-themed children’s stories, I can assure you they are! Almost every storybook I’ve come across about international adoption depicts a Caucasian adoptive family. That’s fine, of course, but many parents and young kids will find it refreshing to read the story of an adopting family who could be Korean-American or transracial. Kudos to Heo for making this charming tale appropriate—and encouraging—to all families welcoming a new addition through adoption.
Ten Days and Nine Nights is a delightful read for children expecting their own new brothers and sisters. Parents could also use the book to introduce the idea that a new adopted brother or sister might be on the way. I smiled my way through it. My guess is that you will, too.