Fuse 8 n’ Kate: How Babies Are Made by Andrew C. Andry and Steven Schepp, ill. Blake Hampton
“Three dudes telling you how babies are made in 1968.”
The Fuse 8 n’ Kate podcast focuses primarily on picture books of the past, but that focus means that we are subject to the past’s limitations. Consequently, most of the books we’ve considered until now have been works of fiction. Well no more! Today we tackle one of our first nonfiction titles, this one dating back to 1968 and, I have no doubt, still circulating in libraries to this day. Yes, it’s a book on human reproduction. So how did the denizens of the late 60s handle such a delicate topic for children? With cut paper, of course! We give credit where credit is due and shame where shame is most definitely due in this consideration of one of the more peculiar sex-ed picture books of the past. Buckle up! It’s gonna be a bumpy ride. And if you didn’t want to see paper cut dog penises today, then this may be the post to skip.
Be sure to check out the Awful Library Books post on this book as well, if you’re curious.
I have found that books that considered themselves forward thinking in the 60s and 70s are seen as distinctly regressive today. For example, this image of average children may have been considered forward thinking in ’68. Today, seeing this stereotypical/downright racist version of the Asian/Asian-American kid… that ain’t good. And if you look online you’ll see a lot of people talking about how the kids in this book are “dead-eyed” or straight out of Coraline. It’s hard to argue.
Kate likes a sassy sun in a children’s book as much as the next person. This book? Contains a “menacing sun”. He has teeth.
Ah yes. The birds. The bees. The bunnies. And the . . . giraffes? We suspect artist Blake Hampton was just really proud of how good his giraffes looks and threw them in for fun.
Fact: If you cannot tell a sperm from a tapeworm, get outta there!
“I did not think I’d be learning about chicken sex tonight, but here we are.”
Kate did not expect such explicit papercuts in her book for this episode. And to be fair, I did not warn her.
A penis in a children’s book and it’s not In the Night Kitchen? Heavens above!
Considering the fraught history of breast feeding in America, I think this is one of the few images in this book that has stood the test of time.
Dick Van Dyke, folks! Deny it if you dare.
Looking for more contemporary books on sex for kids? Take a look at It’s Not the Stork by Robie H. Harris or Tell Me: What Children Really Want to Know About Bodies, Sex, and Emotions by Katharina von der Gathen,
Kate Recommends: Last Call: When a Serial Killer Stalked Queer New York on HBO.
Betsy Recommends: The podcast Articles of Interest
Filed under: Fuse 8 n' Kate
About Betsy Bird
Betsy Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.
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