Wednesday 20 July 2016

The Amazing True Story of How Babies Are Made by Fiona Katauskas

The how and why of babies being made is a curious choice for the CBCA.

Most primary school libraries automatically take a copy of all the shortlisted books, but I've been told by my reps that a number of the Catholic schools are not taking this one.

I find it a little sad and disturbing that in this day and age that a simple, straight forward book about our bodies, how we grow, change and reproduce is deemed inappropriate or too difficult for some.

I can only assume that it's the all inclusive nature of The Amazing True Story of How Babies Are Made is what puts off some people. Her illustrations are multicultural and feature every type of modern family including same-sexed couples, single parents and adoption.

Katauskas starts off by showing us all kinds of babies - animal and human babies and tells us that "our bodies can do amazing things."

We then move onto a closer look at our bodies - the male and female parts are labelled using all the proper names (although she does reference some of the nicknames we use as well).

She moves through the teenage years, the changes and differences that happen on the way to becoming an adult.
The sex page gives enough truthful information without going into all the details that would be appropriate for most 8+ readers (or whatever age your child is when they start asking these awkward questions)!

Katauskas discusses fertilisation, twins, in vitro, how the foetus grows and the birthing process, including caesarean births. Her approach is inclusive - so that all types of families, including adoptees and same-sex parents could easily read this book with their children.

The secret of Katauskas' success though is her humour. There's just enough to take away the embarrassment element for many.

When I was preschool teaching we were often asked by parents how much and what they should tell their children about how our bodies work. I always stressed the importance of using the proper words and giving just enough information.

For instance, most four years olds don't want to know exactly how their mother gives birth to their new baby sibling, they just want to know that she will be okay.
Whenever they asked us, "how does the baby get outside of mummy?" we usually responded with "when the baby is ready to be born, mummy will go to the hospital and the doctor will help the baby come out."

For most four year olds that is enough. But if they keep asking for more details, then this could be the perfect book for you.

The judging criteria for the CBCA Eve Pownall Award for Information book refers to,
books which have the prime intention of documenting factual material with consideration given to imaginative presentation, interpretation and variation of style. 

The Amazing True Story of Babies ticks all those boxes and also provides a much needed updated and modern take on our bodies.

(The 1977 Peter Mayle classic, Where Did I Come From? that I can remember giggling over as a primary school student, was fabulous for it's time, but it's nearly 40 years old.
One of the criticisms of the sex scene in Where Did I Come From? was its focus on the male point of view. Fortunately Katauskas is a modern woman and we have mutual love making that is clearly enjoyable to both parties, a hard penis and, glory be, a wet vagina!)

Katauskas' website is here if you'd like to see more of her work.

 My CBCA shortlist post is here.

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