When 9-year-old Daidree Diacon was picking out books at the Lodi Public Library to read over summer vacation, one hardback with cute colorful illustrations caught her eye. The cover features a broken eggshell on a couch with a baby inside and a family of four looking on.
“She thought it was funny, because it says ‘Mommy Laid an Egg,’” explained her grandma, Patty Garcia of Lodi.
Instead of a children’s humor book, Diacon stumbled onto what Garcia said borders on pornography in its graphic illustration of human reproduction.
“It was a child’s book, but it was very inappropriate to be placed in the hands of children,” said Garcia.
Garcia has not yet notified the library of her thoughts on “Mommy Laid an Egg.” But she wants the book reshelved out of reach of children, perhaps in an education or reference section. Library staff say the book is appropriately shelved in the children’s non-fiction section.
The American version, which Garcia’s granddaughter checked out at the library, came out two years later.
In the story, two parents try to explain where babies come from to their children. But mom and dad get it wrong, so the kids set out to correct them with their own knowledge and simple stick figure drawings. One page depicts a rudimentary male figure with a line pointing from his genitalia to that of a female figure. Another shows cartoonish male and female figures copulating in several different positions, including while on a skate board and while suspended by balloons.
The book has been in circulation in Lodi for 20 years. The listing in the library’s catalog links to three favorable reviews of the book from Publishers Weekly, the School Library Journal and Booklist.
Children’s librarian Jim Tinder said “Mommy Laid an Egg” is aimed at preschoolers to second-grade students, and is on a shelf kids can reach independently.
“It’s up to the parent what their child reads. For us, we have the book here. It’s universally held in children’s libraries,” Tinder said. “We can’t act in loco parentis.”
The library stocks several children’s books on human reproduction, though they vary in the language used and the types of drawings. Teen librarian Behjat Kerdegari said this is one of the most common topics parents request books about.
“It depends on what level children are at, and what parents are comfortable discussing with their children,” Kerdegari said.
Garcia reviewed the book when Diacon brought it home, and was shocked that it had been found in a children’s section.
“I’m not a prude, but my jaw dropped,” she said. “Having the book is fine, but it should not be where any child can pick it up.”
The book is currently still checked out by Diacon. Garcia said it is frightening to think the book will go back on the shelf.
Garcia said Thursday that she plans to request that the book be moved to a different shelf by filling out a standard library form. Library director Dean Gualco will review the request with staff and the library board before coming to a final decision.
Contact reporter Sara Jane Pohlman at firstname.lastname@example.org.