Monday, April 6, 2009

Recipes of how babies are made

Recipes of how babies are made 
by Carmen Martínez Jover 
illus. by Rosemary Martínez
[translation, Diana Guerra] 
Language: English 
[Mexico] : Carmen Martínez Jover, ©2007. 
31 p. : col. ill. ; 22 cm.
ISBN: 9789709410341; 9709410342
Reading level: Ages 3-5
Review: The book uses the metaphor of baking a cake to begin the discussion about baby-making. It describes traditional babymaking as the “classical recipe” for making a baby and then goes on to discuss the various other ways for making a baby when something goes wrong with one of the “ingredients.” These include the need for donor sperm, donor egg, donor embryo, or a surrogate mother and goes on to explain that when none of these options works, there is also adoption as an option for having a child. Excellent illustrations. Includes nudity. High-quality binding.
Annotation: Using the metaphor of cake-making, where milk, flour, eggs, butter and an oven are needed, the author introduces children to the ingredients for making a baby: sperm, an egg, and a tummy. While a cake takes thirty minutes in the oven, a baby takes 9 months in a woman’s tummy. When sperm and egg join, (there is no information on lovemaking), the egg is fertilized and becomes a single cell until it begins to divide to form an embryo and then a fetus, which is carried for nine months. This is the “classical recipe” for making babies. When things don’t work out this way, the book goes on to describe several other methods for making a baby, all of which require a doctor’s help. In vitro is discussed, as well as sperm donation, egg donation, embryo donation, surrogacy, and adoption, and all necessary vocabulary is introduced, “fertilization,” “embryo,” “fetus,” and “pregnancy.” One small critique I have is that for the discussion of in vitro, there is a picture of a test tube instead of a petri dish, which could be confusing to children if their parents combine this book with other books to explain IVF to their children. The description of sperm donation is also combined with the in vitro procedure, “The doctor fertilizes Mummy’s egg in a test tube with the donated sperms,” and “When the embryo starts growing the doctor places it in Mummy’s womb,” which is not always the case with sperm donation. Each procedure for sperm donation, egg donation, etc. is reinforced by accompanying pictures at the bottom of a two-page spread, showing the need for sperm, an egg, a test tube, and a womb. The book ends by reassuring children that no matter how they were conceived, one way is no better than another and that “No matter with which recipe you were born or how you came into Mummy and Daddy’s arms, they love you just the same because they had been longing for you to be part of their family.” Cartoon drawings depict nudity and lovemaking although there is no verbal description of lovemaking. Recommended for children ages 3-5. 


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