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.