This book, in the spirit of The Great Big Book of Families from the same team, explores the different family settings a new baby might join: conventional nuclear families, families with same sex parents, foster families and ‘blended’ families. Someone – I think it was Jerome Bruner – said that most things can be explained to even quite young children in an acceptable way. I thought of this when I read the pages with sensitive and skilful explanations of the IVF process and how two cells, one male and one female, are needed to make a baby.
Always realistic, the book does not hide the likelihood of discord which can occur at times in most families. For example, because family members understand each other so well ‘they know what will annoy you and what will get you into trouble with your parents’. And it’s down to earth about the feelings that come into play when families ‘blend’ and children have to get used to a new person acting as their parent. Children may feel anxious about the mum or dad that no longer lives with them. Airing all this will help reassure children that their feelings about such circumstances are understandable and help them empathise with others. The central message is that families take many forms and the important thing is that children feel happy in the family they belong to.
The perfectly judged text is complemented by Ros Asquith’s expressive and detailed cartoon illustrations. This is a serious and important topic but, as in their other books, this team use humour to suit a young readership. A jolly teddybear bounces through the book making witty asides – ‘They need to make more teddies for all the babies to play with’.
Writers and illustrators of children’s stories tend to show us life in a traditional family. So this book will be an enormously helpful resource for parents and teachers who want to encourage discussion about the different kinds of family unit in contemporary times.