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.
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.