Richie's Picks: WHAT'S IN THERE? ALL ABOUT BEFORE YOU WERE BORN
Richie's Picks: WHAT'S IN THERE? ALL ABOUT BEFORE YOU WERE BORN by Robie H. Harris and Nadine Bernard Westcott, ill., Candlewick, September 2013, 40p., ISBN: 978-0-7636-3630-2
"He will be like she and me, as free as a dove
Conceived in love, sun is gonna shine above"
-- Kenny Loggins, "Danny's Song"
"How do we teach our children about this stuff?"
That's what my friend, the single mom of a daughter, asked me somewhat rhetorically, after I'd described to her this great picture book about the prenatal development of a human baby in the context of a happy and expectant family, and we'd then moved on to the conversation about talking to kids on the cusp of adolescence about the complexities of relationships.
In contrast to those sorts of thorny issues, WHAT'S IN THERE? has a real straight forward, matter-of-fact focus on the physical development of a unborn baby from very early pregnancy to birth.
"The whole time a growing baby is inside a woman's uterus, it floats in warm water. The water all around the growing baby keeps it warm and safe from bumps and pokes.
"Then the growing baby grows even more. Soon, it is about the size of a big peach.
"Now it has eyes, ears, lips, arms, fingers, legs, toes -- and a nose. Its bones and muscles are growing. Its tail has begun to disappear, and it is beginning to look more like a baby.
"Now the growing baby has the special part that will make it a girl or a boy -- a vagina for a girl and a penis for a boy.
"Soft, fuzzy hair covers its whole body! And its fingernails and toenails have started to grow."
The text is accompanied by the illustrated story in which a pair of siblings are talking to each other about the development of their prenatal sibling. This dialogue helps readers recognize the most important points while also modeling siblings preparing for and being excited about a new family addition.
That WHAT'S IN THERE does not delve into the concept of or information about conceiving babies means that it is a book that can readily be shared with relatively young kids without the adults getting all nervous about having to talk about sex.
Thus, this is a book that will really be appreciated by parents who desire to provide basic and approachable scientific information to a soon-to-be big sister or big brother. It will work great with pre-K's and kindergartners who can become comfortable at an early age with human anatomy. (I'd like to think that four year-olds who are exposed to books like this will grow up more comfortable with their own bodies.)
"Soon the baby comes out through a stretchy opening between its mommy's legs called the vagina. And the baby is born! Most babies let out a cry the moment they are born.
"Sometimes, the doctor makes a special cut into the mommy's uterus and lifts the baby out. And the baby is born! Then the mommy's cut is sewn up with a special thread. The cutting and sewing does not hurt the mommy or the baby."
I was one of those kids whose parents ceded the responsibility for learning this sort of information to...umm...who knows? Thus, it was all a mystery to me for the longest time, like into middle school. So, given my own experience, I would be sure to make this one available for young kids as well as not-so-young kids.
Richie Partington, MLIS
Richie's Picks http://richiespicks.com
Moderator http://groups.yahoo.com/group/middle_school_lit/ http://slisweb.sjsu.edu/people/faculty/partingtonr/partingtonr.php