The Story I’ll Tell by Nancy Tupper Ling, illustrated by Jessica Lanan
A mother and her toddler son, cuddled together in a cushy chair, are surrounded by soft summer breezes and warm fading light. Together, they read their bedtime book, as the boy is about to drift off to slumberland. While the mother reads aloud, her heart promises her child, “Someday when you ask where you came from, I’ll tell you a story.”
For many transracial adoptees who have crossed oceans to join their families, that birth story can often be a mystery. Here, author Nancy Tupper Ling adds whimsy and joy to the son’s origins, while artist Jessica Lanan paints Ling’s visions in magical swathes of glowing, multilayered hues. In a nod of acknowledgement to a faraway cultural heritage, both writer and illustrator make sure to imbue text and pictures with hints and clues of the boy’s Chinese birth.
And what does his story entail? Well, he might have arrived via a drifting hot-air balloon or a silent horseman’s stallion or atop an August moon float or rescued from a sleeping dragon queen. Such tales are not so far-fetched, the mother notes – she who was told she came from a cabbage patch by her own mother…
However the beloved boy joins his family, at the end of every journey are the waiting arms of his adoring parents. Gorgeous fairy tale that she spins, Ling also wisely acknowledges reality, too: “When we brought you home in dawn’s early light, you cried for things lost and new.”
Page by page, this Story resonates throughout with love and laughter that turn tears to smiles. It’s quite the resplendent reminder that families are created in any number of ways … and that children – however they arrive in your arms – are the “best gift we ever received.” Amen to that.