Tuesday, December 19, 2006

what my son is reading today: Where Willy Went

Where Willy Went written and illustrated by Nicholas Allan. Knopf, 2004 (0-375-83030-8) $15.95

"Where babies come from" is one of the Big Questions for parents... but Big Questions don't always require Big Answers. And silly answers can be a plus. It doesn't get much sillier than this story about a smiley little sperm named Willy, who isn't very good at math--"'If there are 300 million sperm in the race, how many will you have to beat to win the egg?' the teacher asked. 'Ten?' said Willy"--but who luckily, is VERY good at swimming. All of the essential facts are presented here, including two hilarious "treasure maps" Willy and his competing sperm are given of Mr. Brown (Willy's place of residence) and Mrs. Brown (home of the egg), so it's easy to use this book to open up dialogue with interested kids--and the humor in it is a great help for parents overcoming some embarrassment about the topic. We never do find out exactly where Willy went when he disappeared into the egg (sorry if that's a spoiler!)--and it's puzzling that a "boy" sperm could produce a girl baby--but those seem to be questions that only bother adult readers. (4-8)