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

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

by 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
Edition description:
10th Anniversary Edition
Product dimensions:
8.55(w) x 10.22(h) x 0.35(d)
Age Range:
10 - 18 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.

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