Thursday, June 30, 2011

:: Hello Baby :: a book review

Hello Baby [Book]

by Jenni Overend
[also published as Welcome With Love]

Rarely do you find a children's book as perfect as this.  The illustrations are realistic and yet still storybook-like, the narrative is simple yet complete.  The plot centres around a mother giving birth surrounded by her family at home.

Her small son Jack narrates clearly and from a child's perspective. "Mum's got pains in her tummy and that means her baby is ready to be born."

His mother goes for a walk in the wild wind to "help the baby along".  He observes, "I think if I was a baby listening to that wind, I'd want to stay inside Mum, floating in the warm water."

The midwife, Anna, arrives, as does Mum's sister, Auntie Meg. "She has a pot of soup and a bunch of yellow and orange poppies."

The constant theme reiterated throughout the book is that birth is normal.  There is no panic, no freaking out, even when the mother's labour progresses.  Jack's mum has already explained to him that she'll feel better if she yells and screams.  At one point, Jack answers the ringing phone while his mother is 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."  Yep.  That's as intense as it gets.

My favourite part arrived at the end, when the entire family are having a camp-out in the living room after the baby's birth.  Jack can see the baby sleeping between his parents, which is where he wants to be.  "I sneak out of my bed and hop in next to Dad.  It's warm.  He cuddles me in.  I bet the baby's warm too."

Think there's going to be any jealousy issues between Jack and his new brother?  Not with parents as wise and loving as that.

I bought Hello Baby on the strength of the amazing reviews it was receiving on Amazon, but was surprised by how much it lived up to them!  All four children enjoyed this story from the time we first read it aloud.  Coo, particularly, fell in love with it and carried it around as her "book of the day".

It's worthwhile to note that some readers might find elements of this book unappealing, due to its realistic portrayal of a mother's labour and natural delivery.  The baby's birth is shown [not graphic but it's obvious where the baby's coming from!]

Also, I noticed that a few Amazon reviewers [.com not] criticised the story's apparent location at a cabin in the woods as being too different and idyllically removed from the real world.  However, the author is from a remote part of Australia, where a home birth scenario like this would be more commonplace.

Sometimes different is nice.

And maybe someday, different will be accepted as normal.  I certainly hope so!

1 comment:

  1. I hope so too, Erin. Different is the only world I know ;)


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