Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Wonderfully Ouchy

Back in the day when Rachel and I thought borrowing books from the CSA library was a good idea (which we don’t anymore because you can only check out three juvenile books at a time and I may as well just sit in the library and read to her there so that we don’t have to remember to bring those three books back later—three books doesn’t last us a day) we checked out a book about a little zebra titled Gorgeous!

Rachel picked it out because she liked the pictures, I think, and was excited about the zebras. It looked like an innocent enough story, but then we got into actually reading it.

The first page or so is fine, but fine quickly dissolves into awkwardness when the author, editor, illustrator, and publisher convinced themselves they should include a spread portraying to preschoolers what giving birth is like.

P1140335 P1140333

And thus Little Zeb was born. And thus I cringed while reading a story to Rachel.

First of all, on the morning Rachel was born, I didn’t wake up feeling like something wonderful was going to happen that day. Even though something wonderful did happen the day Rachel was born, it certainly didn’t feel like a wonderful thing. I felt awful the whole day long, worse than I had through the entire pregnancy, almost.

Birth is wonderful, but really, who actually feels wonderful in labor?

Even Big Zeb doesn’t seem to find birthing all that wonderful. In just one page she goes from a happy, smiling pregnant zebra to a zebra cringing in pain and yelling, “Ouch!”

Why “they” felt that exclamation needed to be included in the story is beyond me. How am I supposed to read that word to my child?

Should it be yelled since it’s followed with an exclamation mark?

I never yelled while in labour with Rachel…so should I instead whimper, sniffle, and whine the word out?

Should I cut all emotion out of the word and treat it as casually as if I had received a paper cut?

The rest of the story was alright, but this spread was just…laughable. The School Library Journal agrees with me. They say, “In an unnecessary, potentially confusing opening spread, a female zebra disappears behind a bush, utters an "Ouch," and gives birth. The rest of the story is more successful….”

Maybe it was just so hard for me to read because I’m pregnant. I don’t know. As much as I’m looking forward to the wonderful day when Miriam joins our family, I probably won’t think the day is all that wonderful until after the “ouch” part.


  1. I also noticed in that wonderful picture that the mommy zebra has two tails, which is impossible, so one must belong to the baby coming out of her, but that is also slightly impossible because of where each tail is located.... that is probably the most disturbing children's book I've seen yet. Not only is it entirely not accurate, it makes me uncomfortable.

  2. Check out My Two Dads....geared towards the preschooler....we debated this book for over a week in my Early Lit class...

  3. Well i did laugh Matthew out....and with my first pregnancy managed to speak to mother while in full labor....she was quite surprised....

  4. I was talking in full labour as well, but I wasn't saying, "Oh! Something wonderful is going to happen!" I was saying, "You brought nail clippers?!"

  5. lol.....I remember being on the phone with mom...she was are really in labor? I could even talk through contractions...