After last week's post came with a warning that it might contain the word vagina this week's post comes with a warning that it features Vaginas In Action.
Don't panic, everything will be neatly zipped away in sturdy trousers and big knickers after this. That'll be enough of that sort of talk thank you very much.
Although I had conurbations about how to explain the input of a baby to my children, the output of the infant never presented the same problems. Bill's enchanting 'butt' confusion aside I'd say the fellow reviewers have had a reasonably secure knowledge of that end of events from a fairly tender age: 'Hello Baby' by Jenni Overend, illustrated by Julie Vivas has always been on their bookshelf, and a more straightforward, beautiful exposition of a birth for children it would be hard to find. In fact it would make a pretty good starter for plenty of expectant fathers too I reckon.
I write this with a slightly guilty conscience however for it is currently OOP in this country at least. Libraries people. Save our libraries and go and borrow it if you can.
Jenni Overend is an Australian author and the book tells the story of a family home birth in a rural location from the point of view of the about-to-be big brother Jack, the youngest of three siblings. It's explicit, (the likes of heads emerging and placentas in dishes) straightforward and also reassuring. Birth is presented as exciting, a little scary and occasionally overwhelming but a normal family event.
'Just then the phone rings. I answer it, but I can't hear who it is because Mum is still yelling. I yell. "Mum's having a baby!" as loudly as I can, and I feel much better. The person hangs up. I would too, if I heard that noise on the other end of the phone.'
Home birth is a subject that can become unhelpfully emotive and political between mothering 'tribes'. But although this book is undoubtedly a lovely read for the children of anyone planning the same sort of delivery I think it works equally well for those who's new sibling will/has arrived at hospital. Jack's joy in his brother is tempered with a tinge of displacement, but through Julie Vivas's soft, warm illustrations the continuing bond and love within the family unit is reinforced.
'Slowly we all stop talking. I can see the baby's head on Mum's shoulder. He's between Mum and Dad which is where I'd like to be.
I sneak out of my bag and hop in next to Dad. It's warm. He cuddles me in. I bet the baby's warm too.
"Good night baby," I say. "This is your first night in the world. Good night."'
One of the select band of books that makes my voice go a bit squeaky and my eyes a bit watery when I read it, much to my children's bemusement.
'Hello Baby' by Jenni Overend, illustrated Julie Vivas, pub. ABC books isbn 0-7333-0685-3