The Amazing True Story of How Babies Are Made
Title: ‘The Amazing True Story Of How Babies Are Made’
Author and Illustrator: Fiona Katauskas
To purchase this book click on title links or cover image.
A few weeks ago, we were driving home from school and PudStar (7) randomly said to our Chinese international student, ‘So. In China. If a sperm separates and then there are two babies made…are you allowed to keep both of them or just one of them?’ (she’d been fascinated in the one child policy in China for a few days). After our Chinese student smothered her smirk and explained that twins were just fine and you could keep them both, I explained that it is in fact the egg that divides when twins are created and then calmly asked ‘AND WHERE DID YOU HEAR ABOUT SPERM?’. It turns out that she’d gone through my box of review books which had arrived in the mail, spied ‘The Amazing True Story of How Babies Are Made’ and read it cover to cover, TWICE. We had a big talk about how maybe that book should have been shown to mummy or daddy, we read the book together and since then there has been some super interesting dinner conversations.
I am emailed several times a year regarding books which can be used at home for ‘the talk’ about how babies are made. Without fail, every person who emails says, ‘I want a book like ‘Where Did I Come From?, but a bit more up to date’. Cause we all remember that book.
Well I am so pleased to report that I have found (well really Pud found it…in the review box :)) its modern day equivalent; ‘The Amazing True Story of How Babies Are Made’. This book is utterly accessible, it has a perfect blend of comic style illustrations with just the right amount of text and it will arm children with information which you can discuss as a family, rather than having schoolyard mis-information being the major mode of sex education for your children. It will generate discussions about bodies, how families are created, what makes a family and how babies are actually made – all the information but without going over the top – because that’s what we have Biology textbooks for. I don’t remember discussions about IVF in ‘Where Did I Come From?’ and I certainly don’t remember stories about same-sex relationships – thank glory we can now have these stories! For more stories on diversity in families see here. On behalf of the parents of Australia, thank you Fiona Katauskas for ‘The Amazing True Story of How Babies Are Made’…you’ve just made ‘the talk’ that little bit easier. Oh the wonder of a good book huh?
You can see Fiona interviewed about her book on ABC tv here, and below is my chat with author/illustrator Fiona Katauskas about her book, and a little about her – am loving her colour coded folders sick.
Book People: Fiona Katauskas
Ten Things You Need to Know About Fiona Katauskas
- Tell us about your latest book.
It’s a frank and funny look at one of the world’s most amazing true stories- how babies are made.
- How did you get started as a writer?
I’ve been writing in one way or another for as long as I can remember. For the last 18 years I’ve been a freelance cartoonist, which is a kind of writing-with-pictures. Cartoonists might not use a lot of words but we spend a lot of time choosing them!
- What does a typical day look like for you?
I’m a freelancer so each day is pretty different, depending on my diary. In general, read the newspapers and look over the nation’s political cartoons, both for my own enjoyment and for my job as producer of an ABC TV segment on the subject. I’ll then work on any regular cartoon or TV production deadlines. When these are out of the way, I’ll seize the time to focus on longer-term writing or cartoon projects. I work from home so concentrating after 3:10pm when my kids (9 & 11) get back from school can be a bit of a challenge. A typical day for me generally looks like a juggling act of varying difficulty.
- Can you describe your workspace for us?
Well, my partner would call it a “bomb site” but I prefer “hub of creativity”. Because I draw as well as write I’ve got my drawing board, artfully (ahem) covered in books, paper, cartoons, ink pots, watercolour sets and paintbrushes. Along one side of it is a long desk with my computer, printer and files and on the other is a large bookshelf, stuffed with books, graphic novels, sketchbooks, political cartoon anthologies and colour coded files of all my work.
- Any words of advice for young readers and writers?
Read, read, read, write, write, write. If you’re a writer, don’t force your voice- play around and find one that feels comfortable.
- Do you have a favourite book or character?
My very favourite books (I can’t choose just one) are the Uncle series of by J.P. Martin. These brilliant, hilarious, utterly bent works of very British 60’s and 70’s absurdism opened my 9 year old mind to how it’s not just story but style that really makes great writing. I’ve got the whole collection and still read them regularly. They still make me laugh.
- If you were not a creator of books for young people what would you be?
I’d still be a freelance political cartoonist- sadly there has never been more grist for the satirical mill.
- What is your favourite food to eat and/or your favourite music to listen to whilst you are working on your books?
While writing I tend to need silence to concentrate, although there’s something comforting about having music in another room. I’m a sucker for audiobooks so use my drawing time as a chance to get a bit of binge listening in- usually a novel.
- How much of yourself or people you know is in your books?
Some of my friends and acquaintances make an appearance- although looking entirely unlike themselves. I certainly put a lot of my own pregnancy experience in there and one particular image (one with lots of egg puns) was drawn entirely to amuse my seven year old self. I LOVED egg puns.
10. If you could have one wish for the world what would it be?
To heed the wise words of Kurt Vonnegut when he said ““There’s only one rule that I know of, babies—God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.”