An engaging book that will likely fulfill a need for some parents.

HOW WE BECAME A FAMILY

EGG DONOR, TWINS VERSION

A book for children and their parents that confronts the fact that sometimes the answer to the question “Where did I come from?” isn’t that simple.

Many parents tell their children, “You grew in Mommy’s tummy,” while others tell about their adoptions. However, well-meaning parents of children who were conceived through in vitro fertilization, or with an egg or sperm donor, may stumble over technical terms as they search for words that are honest, clear and simple enough for children. This book, part of a series from Bernard Villegas and Teresa Villegas (Golemito, 2013, with Ilan Stavans, etc.), offers a helping hand. It explains assisted reproduction in spare, restrained language that allows plenty of leeway for parents to deliver their own messages, and it also preserves the beauty and magic of a child’s birth. The story, told in the second person, as if a parent is speaking directly to a child, begins with two people who love each other so much they want to form a family: “They trusted each other, and they helped each other become the best person they could be.” But, when they try to make a baby, they can’t, so they see a doctor. The doctor explains that the couple has most of what they need to make a baby—particularly love and mutual respect—but they also need seeds, eggs and a nest: “Your father had the seeds and your mother had the nest, but she didn’t have any eggs.” It’s an elegant explanation that most children will grasp easily, and, of course, they already know the book’s happy ending. The story features muted, folk art–inspired illustrations, and although most are abstract (the parents have birdlike heads and humanlike bodies), one page has tastefully explicit anatomical drawings of a man and a woman, with the vulva, vagina, penis and scrotum labeled. As with everything else in this book, the drawings and the words are graceful and matter-of-fact. (This version of the book is written for egg-donor twins, and versions for single egg-donor babies and children conceived using donor sperm are also available.)

An engaging book that will likely fulfill a need for some parents.

Pub Date: March 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0988450103

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Heart and Mind Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves

MAYBE

A young child explores the unlimited potential inherent in all humans.

“Have you ever wondered why you are here?” asks the second-person narration. There is no one like you. Maybe you’re here to make a difference with your uniqueness; maybe you will speak for those who can’t or use your gifts to shine a light into the darkness. The no-frills, unrhymed narrative encourages readers to follow their hearts and tap into their limitless potential to be anything and do anything. The precisely inked and colored artwork plays with perspective from the first double-page spread, in which the child contemplates a mountain (or maybe an iceberg) in their hands. Later, they stand on a ladder to place white spots on tall, red mushrooms. The oversized flora and fauna seem to symbolize the presumptively insurmountable, reinforcing the book’s message that anything is possible. This quiet read, with its sophisticated central question, encourages children to reach for their untapped potential while reminding them it won’t be easy—they will make messes and mistakes—but the magic within can help overcome falls and failures. It’s unlikely that members of the intended audience have begun to wonder about their life’s purpose, but this life-affirming mood piece has honorable intentions. The child, accompanied by an adorable piglet and sporting overalls and a bird-beaked cap made of leaves, presents white.

More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves . (Picture book. 2-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-946873-75-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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