App Reviewed on: iPad 3
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Clementine Wants To Know: Where Do babies Come From is a warm and charming app for children about where babies come from that focuses on the social side of sexual education as well as including factual material about a baby's evolution from an embryo to a fetus, including a live birth. Unlike 9 Months!, which I reviewed previously, Clementine Wants To Know takes a decidedly child-centric tone as it tackles this subject from the point-of-view of Clementine: a six year old who has just found out that she is going to be a big sister. From here, the age-old question of “where do babies come from?” is approached in a way that really makes me smile.
This app includes a wonderful use of animation, a glorious palette of bright and appealing colors, vague vintage charm, and terrific narration. With Clementine’s hand-held talking camera, personal friend and trustworthy confidant Zoom-Zoom, the birds and the bees are explained in a way that is palatable and wholly age-appropriate for children whose parents deem them ready to hear not only about babies but actual sexual reproduction. Also thoughtfully included are older sibling’s concerns about being loved less when a new baby arrives.
I am so very fond of how this app explains that animals as well as humans fall in love as the first step in making a baby - explained here as children are asked to take snapshots of animals such as birds, squirrels, and lions as well as two heterosexual couples who are in love within their local park. Later, to explain the process of conception directly, this app tastefully allows Zoom-Zoom's “wonder vision” to see under the clothing of a man and woman, first showing them nude with natural amounts of pubic hair while also allowing a more close-up view of these private areas using Zoom-Zoom's “zoom” feature, then using the x-ray like “wonder vision” to explain the difference between a woman’s vulva and vagina as well as to see inside the uterus, ovaries, eggs, and fallopian tubes.
Also included are the inner workings of the man’s penis, such as moving sperm that Clementine compares to tadpoles. Next, this app explains the actual act of a man and woman having sex, called “having sex,” which explains exactly how the sperm enters into the vagina without being graphic or gross and includes a visual of a man and woman in bed, covered by sheets. I do love Clementine’s reaction of “that’s gross” and Zoom-Zoom’s explanation of how it's not gross for adults in love, shutting the door to the couple’s room to give them more privacy. From here, Clementine asks how having sex creates a baby - a great question that many adults will be grateful for, which this app in a clear and child-friendly way, including children having a chance to help drag sperm with a finger to meet a waiting egg.
It is here that Clementine Wants To Know gives me pause, as the app states that as soon as the egg and sperm meet, the woman becomes pregnant - a concept that to me teeters on the idea that life begins at conception and a theory used to ban certain forms of birth control and linked to the pro-life movement that I am philosophically apposed to. It also disappoints me that this app does not talk about implantation as a very vital part of the story. As any mother who has worked hard at conceiving a child knows, without implantation there is no pregnancy and no baby. Even with this difference of opinion, I am quite fond of the other aspects of this app, including the section that talks about the growing baby - sometimes called a fetus - inside the woman's uterus. I am pleased with the chance to slide a button between one and nine months of pregnancy to see the changes during this time of evolution as here the baby becomes bigger, but without the educational details of specific changes happening within.
Although the month-to-month growth is something this app brushes over compared to 9 Months!, I do find the ability to slide the “speed” button going back and forth between months dynamic for children to view and interact with. I do think it is odd, however, that the baby changes positions by rotating from head up to down and around again when moving from month to month - hardly scientific as the fetus will remain head up until hopefully turning head down later in the pregnancy, but not spinning as seen in this area.
Soon Clementine’s mom is ready to give birth, asking young viewers to assist by dragging the family's car to the hospital. Again, “wonder vision” is used to show a cross section of the baby in mom’s uterus, giving children a chance to help mom push with a tap on her belly to accelerate the birth. One needs to tap again and again as the baby descends the birth canal and the mother groans - a unique interaction that will delight children and impress their adults with the more realistic portrayal. The umbilical cord is then cut by the child exploring the app, allowing them to feel helpful within this story. Although I do wish Clementine's dad had done this, possibly with help from his daughter so that he could be more present and to give him a larger role within this application. I would have also appreciated a chance to see the new mom nurse her child - a real missed opportunity within an app rich with important moments in a child’s birth.
I do appreciate that this app helps children explore family life after the baby has come home, including ways to soothe the child by offering a rattle, a bottle of milk ,and changing the baby boy's diaper to reveal anatomical details. This app ends by reassuring Clementine that her parents love her just as much as before, but the baby needs a lot of attention right now. I am impressed that it also touches upon adoption, surrogacy, and donor insemination including stories of same-sex couples growing their own families - an unexpected section that I find wonderfully inclusive.
There is so much to love about Clementine Wants to Know. It truly helps parents explain the awkward mechanism of conception in a way that I think most adults will find tactful and wise. I would have preferred a different take on when pregnancy occurs, but I don’t think this detail negates all that this app does. I do hope Clementine Wants To Know will become a series, allowing Zoom-Zoom to help Clementine explore other aspects of the world around her. The quality of this app is especially high, making me eager to see what new adventures are in stall for the duo.