BIRTH by Agnes Rosentiehl


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Rosentiehl puts some basic information about sex and babies in comic-style balloons that represent the conversations of a small boy and girl discussing the matter and, in flashbacks, their parents' explanations to them. All the cutting and shifting is adroitly handled, though we wonder how much this ingenuity adds to a child's interest or understanding. As for the content, there is the usual message -- about love and being together and monthly bleeding, male and female sex organs and putting ""one into the other,"" sperm and eggs and the baby coming out, and more love -- mixed in with some unadult and occasionally quirky commentary: when the girl affirms that she will some day ""have milk in my breast for my baby"" the boy adds ""and maybe I'll buy bottles and formula for my wife"" -- but why not ""for my baby,"" if indeed this aspect of fatherhood is likely to occur or appeal to a small boy? And why on earth, after each states his expectation of growing up to be a mother or a father, do the children march off the last page with the words ""you smell good too""? Like the text, Rosentiehl's stylishly spare line drawings conform -- even unto the curlicue pubic hairs -- to the current mode of being both frank and pretty. But the book's chief bid for attention lies in its cartoon format and minimum of words, which might suit it to the short attention span of non-bookish preschoolers or just beginning readers.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1973
Publisher: Holt, Rinehart & Winston (of Canada)