Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Not that page again...

Along with every other parent on the planet, there are books that make my heart sink. Books that I wish I didn't have to read. Books that I contemplate accidentally "losing". Books that actually make me want to find the author and bludgeon them to death with their own stilted prose, woeful illustrations and inexcusable sexual stereotypes. Or sometimes just books that I've read so many thousands of times I can't quite face forcing my lips to enunciate the words again. And then there's this book.

It's called "Sharks" and is in the Usborne Discovery series. A really, really great series of books, well-written, well-researched, well-illustrated, pitched at the perfect level for an inquisitive toddler. And the "Sharks" volume is a fine example of the series. Loads of fascinating information, brilliant photographs, great diagrams. So what's my problem with it?

LittleBear's favourite section, to which I am firmly directed every time we read the book is entitled "Pup producers" and has the following paragraph:

A baby shark starts to form when a sperm cell from a male shark joins together with an egg inside a female shark. Before this can happen, a male shark has to push sperm into a female's body using a part of its body called a clasper. The sperm enters the female's body through a hole called a cloaca. This is called mating.

Now, normally my vocal stylings verge on the animated. The speed of the Mako Shark! The peril of a Tiger Shark attacking baby albatrosses! The extraordinary jaws of the Megamouth Shark! But there is no end to the monotony and subdued expression of my voice as I read about a shark's cloaca. There is no length to which I will not go to make the physical details of Selachimorpha intercourse sound utterly tedious, humdrum and not even slightly worthy of any questions whatsoever.

I am, quite frankly, not ready for conversations about cloaca, nor whether other animals have such a feature. I am certainly not interested in any curiosity regarding the presence or absence of a cloaca about my own person. And I am definitely not ready for any other questions involving eggs and sperm, and Mummy and Daddy. Ideally I'd leave it for another 16 years or so.

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