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Since I discovered that I am expecting a second child my daughter has been completely fascinated in the way that only a three year old can - by asking a thousand and one questions daily! Every morning starts with a sing-song to my belly and a query about what the baby is doing, how big it is and whether it can hear/see/wee/poo/sing/kick yet. My pregnancy books are full of useful pictures but I was on the lookout for something more age appropriate when I came across this book in my local bookshop.
What's in Your Tummy, Mummy? is a factual paperback picture book about pregnancy designed for 3-5 year olds (I would probably put the upper age limit as a bit higher as it is a lovely book for all ages). Abby Cocovini came up with the idea when she was pregnant with her second child and she has come up with a book that is ideal for a parent wanting to explain second or subsequent pregnancies to existing children.
The cover is what drew me to the book, with its bright colourful lettering and large cartoon picture of a heavily pregnant lady in her bra and pants. The back is similarly bright with nine pictures of similarly scantily clad cartoon ladies (of varying ethnicity) with a bump for each month of pregnancy. The cover and pages are made of firm, smooth paper which is tough enough to withstand repeated flicking by small children and make the book a pleasure to read.
Whilst the mechanics of reproduction are skipped over, the introduction explains in simple, clear and age-appropriate terms about the womb and its squishy cushion and how this is where a baby starts to grow. This is followed by nine full page spreads, one for each month of pregnancy. On the right hand page is the lower part of a female torso with an actual size cartoon womb and baby transposed onto it. This is for the mummy to hold up against her body so the child can see what is inside her tummy and is a very visual demonstration of how a foetus grows in the womb. My daughter was delighted to see that the baby in my tummy now looks like an actual baby and she was fascinated to see how tiny it was and how big it is going to get.
The left hand page has four or five well-laid out sentences about the stage of pregnancy and what the baby is doing, interspersed with cartoony pictures. The month of pregnancy and the span of weeks it covers is clearly set out in large font at the top. The information underneath was perfectly set at my daughter's level of understanding and its often humorous style had us chuckling away together. We love the bit about the tadpole tail and the baby being able to put its hands behind its head!
On each spread is a coloured circle which gives the baby's current size e.g. grain of rice, pineapple, pumpkin! All of the things that have been chosen are easy to find and are a nice way to show the physical reality of a baby's growth- which is very difficult to visualise for a small child even from pictures. At the bottom of every page is a timeline of weeks and days, so that you can see how old the baby is - i.e when mummy says she is 12 weeks and 2 days that means the baby is 80 days old, checking this is something we like to do every day.
The final spread has a fold out section to show how large the baby in mummy's tummy is with an amusing (!) 'push, push, push!' above the image! The mechanics of the baby's removal are not dealt with, other than 'when the time is right the mummy must start to squeeze the baby out. It's a lot of hard work!' but that didn't mean that my daughter didn't come up with many interesting questions for me to answer!
Finally the last page deals with the reality of the new baby, with lots of good advice for a new brother or sister - like don't be too loud when the baby is sleeping and don't be too rough with the baby. It also has a lovely picture of a mummy breastfeeding as well as a pile of bottles so it covers both feeding camps. The contents of the new baby's nappy are revealed as green and sticky and the fact that the baby cries a lot is explained in a simple and easy to understand way. The back cover describes this book as 'fun, fascinating and fabulous' and I couldn't agree more! If I was to make any criticism it is that fitting 4 weeks of development onto one page misses an awful lot out but it is a children's book after all. Also perhaps a little on the basic mechanics of putting a baby in and getting it out again would have been useful to help counter the inevitable questions this book raises.
I paid £6.99 in my local independent bookshop and it is retailing for the same price on Amazon.co.uk.