Book Reviews

ForeWord Reviews

One of the best ways to explain something to a small child is through picture books. Potty training, sex, bullying, financial hardship—all of these issues may be best approached through simple language and fun graphics. Claudia Santorelli- Bates provides a similar education on in vitro fertilization (IVF) with her picture book, I Can’t Wait to Meet You.

We first meet Grace and Charlie gazing hopefully across a park watching kids and moms frolic among the autumnal trees. “One day Grace and her husband Charlie decided to start a family,” states the text. Good intentions meet with consistent disappointment, however, as the red arrow on the pregnancy test keeps pointing to NO. Help arrives in the form of Dr. Nelson, who explains the process of IVF with funny cartoons featuring dynamic eggs, sperm, and embryos. The pregnancy test finally says YES, and the remaining pages of the book depict classic where-babies-come- from images: a smiling, pregnant Grace; Mommy and Daddy holding a newborn; the whole family playing in the park.

Santorelli-Bates, a writer who experienced IVF firsthand, does an excellent job at capturing the complex process in clear, entertaining sentences that small children will be able to follow. While the exact science may be beyond the scope of even grownup readers, the simplified version presented in I Can’t Wait to Meet You covers the most important aspects while maintaining readers’ interest. Most importantly, children will respond to the hearty reassurance that they are loved and wanted, a message that is reiterated at the end of the story: “You were so wanted and loved long before we met you. That’s what makes an I.V.F. Baby so special!”

The fourteen color illustrations by Caleb Sawyer inject even more fun and whimsy into Santorelli-Bates’ light treatment of a serious topic. Children and adults will appreciate the comical introduction between egg and sperm, and the body-building efforts of the developing embryos.

With honesty, clarity, and a good dose of fun, Santorelli-Bates and Sawyer make a complicated, potentially frightening process friendly and accessible. I Can’t Wait to Meet You is a much-needed addition to the educational picture book genre. (June 2010) Andi Diehn

A Primer for Young and Old – about the Primaries of Life!

Claudia Santorelli-Bates has managed to produce that book most people who are either preparing to start a family or who have children who are ready to learn the facts of ‘becoming’ have been waiting for. In a very genteel manner, accompanied by some excellent illustrations by Caleb Sawyer, she essentially explains how babies come about. Now granted, not every reader who is fortunate to discover this book is shopping for information on in vitro fertilization, but that is not really the purpose of this book.

Santorelli-Bates has found a manner by which she can easily explain and illustrate the fertilization of an egg by a sperm and how that product implants in the uterus to grow and mature into a baby. Without question this is one of the more sensitive and healthy while lighthearted books on how did we get here. It is fitting for the very young as well as for the poorly informed youngsters who need to consider the responsibilities of parenting: it is equally successful as a manual/guide for all parents and grandparents (and extended family) to explain the birds and the bees topic that is part of every child’s education. By placing the story in the in vitro fertilization category it just becomes more understandable – and engenders the feeling of just how much children are wanted and loved. This is a beautifully presented, much needed book that should find a very wide audience!

Grady Harp

About the Author

Grady Harp is a recognized as a champion of Representational Art in the roles of curator, lecturer, panelist, writer of art essays, poetry, critical reviews of literature, art and music, and as a gallerist.  He has presented premiere artists from throughout the world for such exhibitions as WADE REYNOLDS: Full Circle Retrospective, BODY LANGUAGE: Current Figurative Painters, INDOMITABLE SPIRITS: The Figure at the End of the Century and MEMENTO MORI: Contemporary Still Life. He has produced exhibitions for the Arnot Art Museum in New York, Fresno Museum of Art, Nevada Museum of Art, National Vietnam Veterans Art Museum in Chicago, and Cleveland State University Art Gallery and has served as a contributing artistic advisor for universities and colleges throughout California, in Berlin, the Centro Cultural de Conde Duque in Madrid, and in Oslo.   From 1996 – 1998 his collaborative exhibition, WAR SONGS: Metaphors in Clay and Poetry from the Vietnam Experience toured the United States.  Harp is a frequent contributor to books on fine art, associated with the Ivy Press LTD in England.

Book Review – by Miss Bob Etier

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.

Read the rest of this review

Book Review – by Ericka Tabke

Recently looked at the difficulties parents may have when it comes to explaining IVF to their children. There are no right or wrongs when it comes to how to handle the information, but there are few resources to help parents figure it out.

One IVF mom took matters into her own hands. She spoke with to tell us about her own journey as she sought information to use when one day having the conversation with her own child. During the excitement of her first IVF pregnancy, Claudia Santorelli-Bates began to wonder what it would be like to talk to her child about her conception. “I began looking for books that would aid me in this. In bookstores I only found books about the parents journey through IVF.” After much research she felt it would be in the best interest of the child it is recommended that those conceived by this method have a right to full disclosure,” and ideas began to percolate.

Claudia told that looking at all of the other families she knew who would one day face the same issue is what convinced her to write the book I Can’t Wait to Meet You. Although resistance from some people (“Why would I tell my child about IVF?”) led her to have some doubts about her book, she hesitated only briefly before deciding to continue. “I understand that every parent is different and has their own way of communicating with their child. It actually made me feel even more strongly that I wanted to share my daughter’s story.”

I Can’t Wait to Meet You is the story of Grace and Charlie, two would-be parents who face problems conceiving. With the help of Dr. Nelson, they use IVF to overcome problems with conception and end up having a healthy baby girl. “You were so wanted and loved long before we met you. That’s what makes an IVF baby so special,” Grace and Charlie tell their little miracle.

The story is told simply, with only the details needed to describe the IVF process. Happy adult faces and children-friendly illustrations give I Can’t Wait to Meet You a light, loving tone. Smiling eggs are ready to embrace friendly looking sperm as Dr. Nelson explains the procedure. “When the eggs meet the sperm we hope they like one another and become an embryo.” One particular egg and sperm couple holds hands, grinning and looking like love-struck teenagers.

Claudia’s own story, unfortunately, is more complex than the fictional Grace’s. She presents with Factor V, which increases the risk of late miscarriage. Blood thinners are a necessary treatment for her because of an increased risk of clots. After a year of trying, Claudia and her husband moved to IUIs (Intrauterine Insemination). And? “And no baby.” The stress and disappointment led to depression for Claudia. “My depression was so high I found an infertility psychologist and joined a mind/body group. This was the best thing I did for myself. It help me to manage my stress and understand what I was going through.” Ready to continue, the couple sought out another clinic were diagnosed with unexplained infertility. Claudia reflected on her diagnosis by telling what many women express about their difficulties, “I was not impressed with my diagnosis. It felt like it should have been more dramatic to reflect what my husband and I were going through.”

Although losing hope, they got their miracle with their very first IVF cycle. They now have three daughters, aged 7, 6 and 4. Are they informed about their parents’ choices? “I have let my two older children read it. They think it’s cool. They understand that it can be hard for Mommies and Daddies to have a baby.” Something that they did not know before reading their mother’s book.

I Can’t Wait to Meet You is a delightfully simple book that explains IVF in a way that children can understand. In fact, it explains IVF in a way that many adults could understand, as well. Put a copy on your Mother’s Day wish list, give a copy to your spouse, and slip an anonymous copy in the in-box of that woman at your office who just doesn’t get it.

Those of you who are Reproductive Endocrinologists or ART nurses should make a note as well. This book would make a delightful (and inexpensive) baby gift for all of the new parents you have helped with their own miracles.

Claudia is hard at work on her next book, which she describes as more of a prequel to this one. We can’t wait to read that one, too.


Shirley Johnson/Senior Reviewer  Mid/West Book Review

Inside this book we meet, Grace and her husband, Charlie.  They want to have a baby but try as they might it just is not happening for them.  They travel to the doctor where they undergo Vito fertilization and are very happy when they find out they are going to have a baby.

Author, Claudia Santorelli-Bates writes this book from her own experience of having a child through the help of IVF. This is a hardcover book, very well made, with exceptional illustrations. Our author takes the reader through the process of what happens when someone is trying to conceive using IVF.

The story is told in a very tasteful, joyous, colorful way, and it has a beautiful ending. However, I don’t feel it is a book that just any mother would pick up to read to her child. It would depend on when a family wishes to share with their child how a baby is made. They would need to be ready and open for a discussion of this,  so that should be considered.  However for parents of an IVF child it will definitely show them how deeply they were wanted and greatly loved even before they entered this world. That knowledge alone is a true gem for any child to know and cling to all of their lives.

Please do not misunderstand me, I liked this book.  I think it is beautifully written, creatively illustrated and definitely has something to say, and that is the point. It is not a read me a story before I go to sleep book. It is a story with a mission of love that may not be for everyone, but will definitely touch the hearts of those it is set forth to reach.


Book Review Rayna e blogger Mom’s Not All

I was delighted to receive I Can’t Wait to Meet You by Claudia Santorelli-Bates for review. It was one of those great coincidences in life that I was asked to review this book at this particular time. I have some close friends who just found out they were pregnant using IVF. 
This book is perfect for a family who wants to be open and honest with their children about what it took to bring them into the world from a very young age. It is a picture book with basic descriptions of the IVF process while making it clear that the love the could have for each other and the want for a child were the major motivating factors in taking part in IVF. In the end the couple end up with a beautiful baby to love.
I really liked how this book made the hard stuff easy to understand on a toddler/preschooler level. And that the most important thing is the whole family’s love for one another.
Bryan Carey’s Full Review: Claudia Santorelli- Bates – I Can’t Wait to Meet You

Books aimed at young children usually avoid controversy but it is sometimes necessary to approach more controversial subjects, at least a little bit, to help children understand certain subjects/topics a little better. This is what happens in I Can’t Wait to Meet You: Understanding In Vitro Fertilization, a children’s book by Claudia Santorelli- Bates with illustrations by Caleb Sawyer.

Book Contents:
Grace and Charlie are a happy couple and they want to start a family. They try and try, but Grace cannot seem to get pregnant. They make the decision to visit a local doctor. The doctor explains to the couple how it is sometimes difficult for couples to have a child, but there are alternatives.

The next thing you know, Grace and Charlie are attempting one of the alternatives: In Vitro fertilization. Grace gives up some eggs and Charlie some sperm. The couple then watches as their reproductive cells swim around in a bowl, and they hope very much that the two will meet and form an embryo. Sure enough, embryos are formed and are placed back inside Grace to grow.

Before long, Grace discovers she is pregnant and nine months later, a child is born. The book ends with the happy couple swinging their baby at the park, pointing out what makes an IVF baby so special.

Final Thoughts:
I Can’t Wait to Meet You is a children’s book that tackles a subject few children’s books are willing to touch: In Vitro Fertilization. This book is thirty-two pages in length and it follows a young couple from their home to the doctor’s office and back as they utilize the tools of modern science to start a family.

I have gone through dozens (perhaps a hundred or more) children’s books in the past few years with my little girls, but this is the first children’s book I have come across that deals with the subject of In Vitro fertilization. The idea is to present the subject of In Vitro as smoothly and innocently as possible and then let kids who were born this way know how special and wanted they truly are. Like the book says, the fact that In Vitro children are wanted long before they are born is proof of what makes them so special. This book aims to provide a comfort zone to those who were born using In Vitro, letting them know that there is nothing strange about this procedure and, in fact, it is actually a fascinating and special way to be born.

I Can’t Wait to Meet You tries its best to present this subject in an understandable way, but unless children are completely oblivious to the topic, a book like this is bound to raise many questions. The mention of eggs and sperm is bound to garner a response from curious youngsters and the illustration showing the sperm and eggs swimming in a large bowl is certain to bring up even more inquires. Then, there is the transfer of embryos from dish to tummy. There is almost no way a child is going to read a book like this and not want some answers to questions, so parents need to be prepared. Very young children will likely find the book boring because they won’t understand the language, but older children will understand just enough to encourage them to ask even more.

The illustrations in this book are like drawings from a coloring book, and this means they are cute and innocent looking. They are not very detailed, but since the book is intended for younger children, they are perfectly fine the way they are. The words on each page are few, so the reading process goes very quickly. Still, even with the speed of reading, children are bound to ask questions: “What does this mean?”, “What is that?”, “Why can’t this couple have a baby?”, “How do you put a baby in a women’s tummy?”, etc., etc.

Overall, I Can’t Wait to Meet You is a good effort for a children’s book and the author deserves credit for tackling a difficult subject. Some of the words used in the book and the illustrations are a bit much and they are bound to spark questions. The book will resonate most strongly with older children who already know they were born through In Vitro, but the book is written with younger children in mind. It’s a controversial book, but a good effort for a subject that is delicate and sometimes emotion- invoking.

Note: This Book Review is Based on an Advance, Complimentary Copy I Received from the Author