Friday 24 March 2017

ReadItDaddy's Book of the Week - Week Ending 24th March 2017 - "Mummy Laid an Egg" by Babette Cole (Red Fox Picture Books)

The late, great Babette Cole was definitely a force to be reckoned with in children's literature. A fabulous character, often outspoken and very much a huge influence on other authors and illustrators, her books are beloved by millions.
It was a very sad loss to children's books when Babette died back in January. At the time we dug out our very well read and well loved copies of "Dr Dog" and "A Dose of Doctor Dog" and read them again just to remind ourselves how fabulous her work was.

Weirdly, we've somehow missed out on "Mummy Laid an Egg" so I had to pick up a copy - now that Charlotte's at that tricky age where the awkward questions about 'where babies come from' need some fairly sensitive handling.

Babette takes quite the opposite approach. My wife thought this book was "crude" but I thought it did exactly what you need to do in a book of this type. Make a flipping huge joke of the whole subject of reproduction because when you think about it, it really is a completely crazy thing to try and picture and describe to your middle graders without coming across like those horridly 'plummy' texts you get in embarrassingly cold 'scientific' books.

Kids aren't idiots - don't treat them like they are!
Mum and Dad in the book decide to sit their two kids down and explain where babies come from. They come up with a whole host of ludicrous notions. Hidden under flowerpots? Squidged out of toothpaste tubes? Delivered? Come on Mum and Dad, get with the programme!

The kids draw some diagrams for mum and dad....showing they're definitely more knowledgable than they let on...

If there's one spread in the whole book that made me wince with embarrassment, it's this one. 

This book has gone on to become something of a 'marmite' book amongst teachers, parents and carers but for what it's worth, Babette has produced a book that really doesn't make any bones about the whole thing (and yes, that spread above is a real laugh-out-loud moment that had poor Charlotte cringing inwardly, so thankfully we skipped past it VERY QUICKLY INDEED!)

Charlotte's best bit: A lovely cameo or two by a dog that looks exactly like a certain canine doctor.

Daddy's favourite bit: Take away the British "stiff upper lip" and rather victorian attitude to reproduction and this is the sort of book you end up with. Hilarious, fun, getting its message across in a very funny way. Bless you Babette! Rest in peace.

"Mummy Laid an Egg" by Babette Cole is out now, published by Red Fox Picture Books.