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Book Review: I Can’t Wait to Meet You by Claudia Santorelli-Bates, illustrated by Caleb Sawyer.

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How far do parents need to go in explaining the facts of life, or — more specifically — “where babies come from” to young children? I Can’t Wait to Meet You is a storybook for young children that explains in vitro fertilization (IVF).

Gone are the days when kids were satisfied with vague sperm and egg stories that uncomfortable parents shared in an effort to scare their children away from sex. Since few of us have seen storks lately, or live near cabbage patches, those stories won’t wash either.

When my oldest daughter, Buffy, was about four-years-old she explained to me where she and her sister, Jenna, came from. “I know where I came from,” she announced.

Shocked, I replied “You do?” Although Buffy and Sesame Street arrived at about the same time, I didn’t think she learned the info from Cookie Monster. “Where did you come from?” I asked naively.

With the casual confidence only a four-year-old can maintain, she replied, “The moon.” She went on and described what it was like there (a big playground), and how she and Jen played with all the other children. She and her sister came to earth together, which is pretty amazing since Jen was two years younger than she. That story got me off the hook for a few years.

Claudia Santorelli-Bates has another story to tell. She tried for years to conceive and finally succeeded through IVF. Santorelli-Bates’ story has become the story of Grace and Charlie, a couple who decided to start a family. “They tried and tried…” but no baby.

Grace and Charlie visit Dr. Nelson, who explains why sometimes it’s hard to have a baby and then gives a basic course on IVF without all the icky details about body parts and stuff like that. The story is as benign as Buffy’s story about the moon, and has just as happy an ending.

Santorelli-Bates wrote the book, available online at www.icantwaittomeetyou.com, to explain to her daughter how much she was wanted, and published so that the many children who were conceived through the help of IVF would know how badly their parents wanted them.

Caleb Sawyer’s gentle illustrations add warmth to the story, and the happy little eggs, sperm, and embryos allow children to imagine the process without getting bogged down in things they are too young to understand.

Even grandparents who are still nauseated at the thought of their own parents “doing it” will approve of this tender rendition of “where you came from.” I still like the rose garden story, though.

Bottom Line: Would I buy I Can’t Wait to Meet You? Yes, as a shower or baby gift for someone who successfully underwent the procedure.

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