How Do You Make a Baby?
A frank, conversational narrative and playful illustrations convey information about conception, gestation, and birth in this limited introduction to an often-taboo topic: babies’ provenance. Fiske dives right in, inviting reader interaction: one spread asks readers to identify “who is having sex here” among loving couples rendered in energetic cartoon line drawings. Fiske doesn’t shy away from showing genitals and coitus, and includes descriptions of in vitro fertilization (for couples who “can’t make babies when they have sex”) as well as adoption (parents who “have been waiting a very, very, very long time”) alongside humorous depictions of smooching duos and swimming sperm. For all its apparent straightforwardness, however, the volume misses myriad opportunities: while vaginal and cesarean births are plainly presented (albeit sans fluids), ovaries aren’t clearly shown until well after their first reference; the text also confuses sex and gender (“The sperm determines whether it will be a girl or a boy”). Gay and straight couples are featured, as is an individual wearing heels and earrings with a suit and tie, but heterosexual duos dominate the framing, and the book lacks references to nonbinary and trans people in its descriptions of fertilization and pregnancy (“Pregnant mothers all look different”). More irreverent than inclusive, this effort is restricted in its applicability. Ages 4–7. (Aug.)
Update: The age range in this review has been changed for accuracy.■