"Where do babies come from?" This question has the potential to make a grown person shrink with fear, but also to offer multiple, complicated answers. As the author of What Makes a Baby Cory Silverberg says in his introduction, children want to know where all babies come from, but also where they in particular came from. These questions require different answers, and this book gives a wonderful launching point for both.
The author uses technical terms in a very child-friendly way, such as when he introduces the sperm and egg as containing the stories of the bodies they came from, and a uterus as the place a baby grows. The uniting of egg and sperm is described as a special dance where they tell each other their stories, ending with a completely new thing that may grow into a baby. The growth of the baby and subsequent birth are plainly described, and Fiona Smyth's colourful illustrations show these events in a non-threatening way.
The most wonderful part of the book for me was the fact that Silverberg makes no assumptions about the type of family reading it, or the circumstances surrounding the birth of the child it is instructing. There is no reference to a mommy and a daddy, only bodies with parts. Throughout the book, the author directly questions the reader about the people who love the child and waited for him or her to be conceived and born. This leaves the door open for discussions about the child’s own circumstance, be it adoption, sperm or egg donors, fertility treatments, surrogacy or natural conception. At its heart, What Makes A Baby will leave any child, parent or teacher feeling that the most important thing about human reproduction is that someone, somewhere was waiting for us to come into the world.
Jennifer Johnston is a member of the Ottawa-Carleton Teacher Local