I was in the bookstore browsing in the children's section when I overheard a nine-or-so-year-old girl say, "Hey, Mom, look at this!"
Of course, I looked, too. She was holding a copy of Before You Were Born and pointing to page 17 picturing a very pregnant woman on a flap and looking aghast at her weight on the scales. Then the girl lifted the flap to show the near-term infant looking surprised as he/she considers the trip down the birth canal. Daughter and mother laughed and Mom said, "Let's go back to the beginning." I edged closer to take a better look.
In this lighthearted explanation of pregnancy - all nine months of it - author Jennifer Davis describes the stages of development from a mother's perspective. She relates in rhyming verse how Dad immediately told friends and family, her morning sickness, hearing the heart beat, etc. With each of the nine stages, readers can lift the flap to see how baby is maturing. It's the perfect way to explain the birth story from both outside and inside. A brief additional fact is given in small box opposite the flap.
Davis, mother of four herself, unveiled the mystery first for her two older children when she was carrying her third child. She wanted to let them know that the changes she was going through were commonplace. After telling each child the same rhyming story many times (it's mandatory on birthdays), she decided it was worth sharing with others.
Laura Cornell's cartoon illustrations are loose, colorful, and funny. They make the book more appealing to older kids and even some expectant mothers. Granted, it's no scientific text, but it satisfies a lot of curiosity and gives a lot of laughs. Imagine being big enough in the ninth month to provide shade for the family dog!
Paula Morgan is children's book reviewer in Minneapolis, Minnesota.