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It's Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health
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It's Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health

3.4 23
by Robie H. Harris, Michael Emberley

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Providing accurate, lucid, unbiased answers top nearly every conceivable question children may have about sexuality, It's Perfectly Normal is here to help. From conception and puberty to birth control and AIDS, it is a refreshingly open and thorough presentation of the facts of sex - both biological and psychological - which children need now more than ever.


Providing accurate, lucid, unbiased answers top nearly every conceivable question children may have about sexuality, It's Perfectly Normal is here to help. From conception and puberty to birth control and AIDS, it is a refreshingly open and thorough presentation of the facts of sex - both biological and psychological - which children need now more than ever. Throughout, two cartoon characters, a curious bird and a squeamish bee, reflect the diverse feelings children often have about sex. Packed with warm, age-appropriate illustations, often humorous but always scientifically correct, It's Perfectly Normal offers children the resassurance that the changes and emotions they experience while growing up are perfectly normal.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this intelligent, amiable and carefully researched book, Harris ( Before You Were Three ) frankly explains the physical, psychological, emotional and social changes that occur during puberty--and the implications of these changes. Taking a conversational, relaxed tone, Harris also discusses such subjects as sexual orientation, sexual reproduction, pregnancy, birth control, sexually transmitted diseases and sexual abuse. The author intentionally and effectively repeats certain crucial information, especially on the subject of the possible consequences of sexual intercourse. Alternately playful and realistic (and occasionally graphic), Emberley's ( Ruby ) watercolor-and-pencil art reinforces Harris's message that bodies come in all sizes, shapes and colors--and that each variation is ``perfectly normal.'' Cartoon panels illustrate various complicated processes (e.g., menstruation, the fertilization of an egg, childbirth). Appearing on each spread are two characters--an easy-going bird and an apprehensive bee--whose comments add levity to this solid volume. Ages 10-14. (Sept.)
VOYA - Dotsy Harland
The third edition of this award-winning book on human sexuality will be welcomed by curious adolescents everywhere. Harris's writing style is straightforward and lively, and Emberley's eye-catching illustrations are still edgy and fresh. Colorful, witty cartoons depict bodily processes such as menstruation and ejaculation in the style of a graphic novel, and every conceivable body type, age, and race are represented somewhere in the book. The Bird and the Bee, two characters who carry on a continuous background dialogue supplementing the main text, are especially amusing. The bulk of the text has not changed; however, some of the information, such as the segment on birth control, has been updated to include recent developments. The section on abortion now has more current legal information, including relevant court cases, such as a 2007 Supreme Court ruling further restricting intact dilation and extraction. The information on sexually transmitted diseases, AIDS, and HIV has also been updated, and helpful discussions of the HPV vaccine and Internet safety have been added. The final chapter, "Staying Healthy," stresses the importance of taking responsibility for one's actions and decisions in addition to taking good care of one's body. Harris and Emberley offer encouragement, openness and understanding to young readers who are personally in need of this kind of information as well as to those who are just interested in reading about the birds and the bees. Previously published in 1994 and 2004, this excellent updated resource will be a valuable addition to any library collection. Reviewer: Dotsy Harland
Children's Literature - Mary Sue Preissner
This book is more for the middle schoolers since it offers more detail and subject coverage than other books on the same topic. It is not for the faint-of-heart. Sexual reproduction, abstinence, abortion, birth control, sexual abuse, STD's (sexually transmitted diseases), HIV/AIDS are all discussed. There are lots of color drawings, presented in a non-threatening way by using a bird and a bee for discussion, and by using language easily understood by kids. My kids (ages 11, 13, & 14; 2 boys, 1 girl) read the book and unanimous stated that they liked this book and were glad it was available in the house-but they would never let anyone see them select it from a library shelf. It is a book that should be read and discussed with an adult and especially a parent.
Children's Literature - Beverly Kobrin
The author's and illustrator's understanding of and respect for children in evident throughout this book. Ms. Harris covers the same material as Ms. Patterson in It's OK to Be You, but treats the issue of homosexuality more explicitly and non-judgmentally adds information about aborted pregnancies. She's also included information about sexual abuse and sexually transmitted diseases, including AIDS, and an index. A bird and a bee add light-hearted commentary.
School Library Journal
Gr 4-8-A wonderful guide for young adolescents setting sail on the stormy seas of puberty. Packed with the vital information they need to quell fears and make wise decisions, this ``sex manual'' uses of clever cartoons to enliven and expand the text. Frank yet playful, they portray a reassuring array of body types and ethnic groups and illuminate the richly informative, yet compact text, allowing readers to come away with a healthy respect for their bodies and a better understanding of the role that sexuality plays in the human experience. Birth control, abortion, and homosexuality are given an honest, evenhanded treatment, noting differing views and recommending further discussion with a trusted adult. The dangers of STDs, teen parenthood, and sexual abuse are examined. The inventive use of a bird and a bee that react to the topics throughout artfully contrasts the differing views of early and late bloomers. Like any book that depicts naked bodies and sexual activity, this one is sure to inspire a few giggles in the stacks and be likely to disappear. But what it offers in scope, currency, and a cheerfully engaging format is quite special. An ideal introduction to ``coming of age.''-Virginia E. Jeschelnig, Willoughby-Eastlake Public Library, Willowick, OH
From the Publisher
"It's Perfectly Normal is informative and interesting; reassuring and responsible; warm and charming. I wish every child (and parent) could have a copy." — Penelope Leach, Ph.D., author of YOUR BABY & CHILD

"I recommend [IT'S PERFECTLY NORMAL] to parents and children who are coming into adolescence. They will love it." — T. Berry Brazelton, M.D. author of TOUCHPOINTS

"A perfectly wonderful treatment of the always touchy subject of sex education for young people. The book treats the subject seriously and its intended readers respectfully." — Hugh B. Price, president, National Urban League, Inc.

Children's Literature - Elizabeth Leis-Newman
It is a large challenge to find books about sexuality, sexual health, birth control, sexual abuse and pregnancy that have accurate information and a light tone without being condescending or scary. This 20th anniversary edition of It’s Perfectly Normal is one of the best modern books tackling the subject, partially due to the subject matter experts—including parents—contributing to the book. Sections cover sex, the human body, puberty, families and babies, decisions, and staying healthy. Within these sections, the authors—along with an illustrated bird and bee—tackle topics including male and female sex organs, masturbation, birth, alternate ways to have a family, abortion, sexual abuse and HIV and AIDs. There is a refreshing up-to-date chapter on texting and being online, both including information on getting reliable information on the Internet and maintaining privacy. Children may giggle but also learn from the illustrations, some of which are graphic, but also refreshingly inclusive, with illustrations of diverse people and those with disabilities. This title also stands out since it offers a discussion of straight, gay, lesbian and transgender, pointing out the importance of treating everyone with respect. There are two caveats: one, the huge amount of information means parents of younger children may want to first stick with the earlier chapters involving biology; two, librarians or teachers should know the illustrations and tackling of controversial issues—such as why people have abortions or different types of contraception—may offend some. However, it should be the top choice for most parents if they are looking for a starting point into discussions about sex. Part of the “Family Library” series. Reviewer: Elizabeth Leis-Newman; Ages 11 up.

Product Details

Candlewick Press
Publication date:
Family Library Series
Product dimensions:
8.42(w) x 10.22(h) x 0.31(d)
Age Range:
10 Years

Meet the Author

Robie H. Harris has written many award-winning books for children of all ages, including the definitive Family Library about sexuality: IT'S PERFECTLY NORMAL, IT'S SO AMAZING!, and IT'S NOT THE STORK! She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Michael Emberley is the illustrator of numerous books for children, including the Family Library. He lives in Wicklow, Ireland.

Customer Reviews

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It's Perfectly Normal 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 23 reviews.
lorilou More than 1 year ago
I bought an earlier edition 13 years ago for my daughter which was much more graphic and contained a lot of information on positions during intercourse, etc. That was fine for her because she was emotionally mature enough for the information and our discussions. Now I have a 12-yr-old boy, who was not at the same maturity level and I hesitated to buy it again, until I reviewed the new edition. I LIKED THIS ONE MUCH BETTER FOR a 12-yr-old than the older version. It gives them what they need to know about the birds and bees without it being too in-your-face or even scary. It references the act of intercourse but does not give detailed drawings as in the older edition. It also presents and answers questions about personal hygiene, changes in the body and what to do when these changes happen. In all, I would recommend this book for a non-threatening way to create easy discussions with your child regarding the "facts of life", especially a child of the opposite gender.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really liked this book! I have a 10yr old Son that was confused about the changes that were occuring to his body and things he was hearing at school. We read this book together. It makes me feel better that he has the information here in this book, instead of asking someone that still feels the need to actually spell out the word sex like my parents did instead of openly talking about it.Our children are going to be raised in a more open enviorment then we were....let's face it. This book will better prepare children to understand their changing bodies as well as sexual feelings that they do not understand yet. I like that it talks about STD's and HIV also. Our children need to be educated about sexual health earlier than we did and this book does just that. Usually, children that have no clue what they are getting into are the ones that end up having or supporting kids at an early age. If you have a pre-teen, you need this book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
my daughter and I have read this book and I think this wonderful.My daughter is 10 and got her period and she love sthe book.SHe now knows all I want her to know at this stage,Well be blessed
Guest More than 1 year ago
'It's perfectly normal' is such a great book. A lot of parents won't say anything in that book that it tells you. If you don't know anything about puberty you should read it. Even if you do. It also talks about sex and turning into an adult.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is a very clinical approach to many (some uncomfortable yet true) aspects of sexuality. With sex and sexuality EVERYWHERE in our society, we as parents need to provide our children with accurate, detailed information. It's Perfectly Normal is the perfect springboard (not substitution) for many family discussions and quite possibly the foundation to your child(ren)'s healthy perception of sex and sexuality.
Guest More than 1 year ago
To be honest, I thought that any book with the word normal in the title would be lacking in some form, but to my surprise this educational childrens book is better than normal. My younger brother found this outstanding book in a library, we all laughed at him for picking out this book. He read this book to us word for word. We were all rather impressed that this childrens book was so informative and open to discussing things that some parents are afraid to say. I advise any parent that is timid to inform their children about sexuality to purchase this book and put it on their bookshelf.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am very conservative and agree that there are some troubling points mentioned above. However, as someone who has to look for books that explain sexuality to children-mostly young adults, though-aand that need to be more than-here's the birds and the bees and the clinical side of sex-which I don't even remember really understanding, in terms of how it applied to me as a child-young adult-it's hard to find books that explain these subjects in a way people will understand. And, though I am all for people teaching their own children based on their religious and personal beliefs, the population we serve is one of very underpriviliged, read:extremely poor adults who are even ignorant and misinformed themselves. They are also around only basically predominately close minded larger culture religious fundamentalists and mormons, who actually teach them stupidities like that wearing makeup or shorts or braiding hair is bad, while wearing long cotton dresses that leave nothing to the imagination or skin tight jeans, your long hair down and died, is somehow good womanly, and not provacative in 'the wrong way' -and this appears to be their take on conservative values and the extent of their sexual/moral educational contribution to the area. The overall culture is however, mostly of course, rejecting of all this nonsense, but tends toward planned parenthood, eveything goes, party on Garth mentality, in which many people may even have sex before they even know what is going on. So-I think there is a need for these books, not b/c I am for a lot of the aspects-but these people, many of whom are adults, teen, and pre-teen, will basically not even know what a lot of the things people may be expecting them to do even are. And I realize that probably the school officials will maybe even censor this book, (they even have Christian stuff on site to the detriment and in the absense of of any other materials) but at least one must make the determination that one should endeavor to try to tell people who don't even have many language skills of any language, what sexual things even are, so they can at least know what they are doing, and maybe even know to say no stop etc to.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book dissapionted me to the limits of no return. I could keep going on and on, however I'll give you an example. In the book when they start talking about sexual feelings they just tell you it's normal; they never told me how to mannage any of this. The writers and illustrators of this book is lukeworm at what their suppose to do.
MicheleV More than 1 year ago
If the book is to be covering 'normalcy', then it wouldn't be showing two girls kissing and calling that 'normal'.  That is NOT normal.  Tolerance is one thing, but calling it 'normal' is another thing entirely.  So tired of the brainwashing.  Also, this is WAY to graphic for children. Also, I hardly think that showing positions used during intercourse is necessary.  It isn't, or at shouldn't be a how to book.  Overall, I found it highly offensive that this garbage is being peddled to children in the guise of  'educating'  them. Save your money.... 
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought this book was disgusting. As a 7th grader this book was gross and not very helpful! It wouldn't have been so bad if there were not all of the colored pictures! Most people say this book is great for middle schoolers but I thought it was disgusting along with all of my friends!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
DISGUSTING KIDDIE PORN, as in PORN for kids.. Very graphic and completely OUT OF LINE. If you want to have over-sexualized children at a very young age, this is the book for you!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have seen & reviewed this book and to say the least I qualify it as 'porn for children'! I know children are curious and need to know information about their bodies... however, this book is not for children! What 10 year old needs to see an artist's creative version of boys & girls performing 'self gratification'. I would recommend the book stores put a disclaimer on this book & placing it with the other porn behind the counter before one of our children find it in the 'Children's section'. I am not joking when I say there are more that 100 naked 'drawings' & some are in different sexual positions! BEWARE!!!
mommyof3boysJG More than 1 year ago
I am looking for a book that talk about changes in the body not how to have sex. My baby is only 9!. After reading the review I will not purchase this book. And I really believe that 13 is not even time to talk about having sex. I'll keep searching.