What's the Big Secret?: Talking about Sex with Girls and Boys

What's the Big Secret?: Talking about Sex with Girls and Boys

3.9 21
by Laurie Krasny Brown, Marc Brown

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American Bookseller Pick of the Lists, 1997 Are boys and girls different on the inside? How do you tell girls and boys apart? Do girls and boys have the same feelings? Is sex a dirty word? Where do babies come from? What does being pregnant mean? How do you get a belly button? Tell me about when I was a baby...  See more details below


American Bookseller Pick of the Lists, 1997 Are boys and girls different on the inside? How do you tell girls and boys apart? Do girls and boys have the same feelings? Is sex a dirty word? Where do babies come from? What does being pregnant mean? How do you get a belly button? Tell me about when I was a baby...

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The creators of When Dinosaurs Die and Dinosaurs Divorce gracefully tackle another topic that is potentially problematic for youngstersthis time without dinosaur characters. Marc Brown's familiar renderings of bouncy kids and their parents fill these brightly hued, cheerfully cluttered pages, helping to put young readersand their parentstotally at ease. Using straight text as well as cartoons that include dialogue balloons, the narrative does likewise. The delivery is chatty yet frank, and avoids talking down as the authors discuss how boys and girls differ (concluding that they're more alike than not, except for certain physical characteristics); the importance of respecting others' feelings and privacy, including that "no one has the right to touch you in a way that feels wrong or uncomfortable"; how conception occurs and why "the womb is a perfect first home." Although some of the issues may be sophisticated for the lower end of the age range (e.g., "Inside the fertilized egg is information about how to shape this new life. These instructions, called genes, decide such things as a baby's skin color"), this is a suitably simplified, lucid introduction to sex and reproduction. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Children's Literature
How are girls and boys different? How are they the same? Why do girls and boys use the toilet differently? How are babies made? With the right amount of warmth and humor to break the ice but not get corny, Laurie Krasny Brown and Marc Brown introduce the topic of sex. Honest, factual language and simple illustrations explain male and female body parts, growing up, sexual intercourse, pregnancy, sexual feelings, and privacy in a way that makes this subject no more of a giggler than a trip to the grocery store. Kids and parents will appreciate the honest tone--enough information to answer questions but not too much information. The book is appropriate for small children starting to ask big questions, as well as older kids who have not shown much interest in this topic. So, what is the big secret? 2000 (orig. 1997), Little Brown & Co., Ages 4 to 8, $15.95 and $5.95. Reviewer: Julie Steinberg
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 3How can you tell a boy from a girl? What are the proper terms for genitalia? How do you make a baby? Where does a belly button come from? The Browns answer these and similar questions in an honest, but superficial way that will satisfy some youngsters, but leave others with many questions unanswered. Overly detailed for younger children and too incomplete for those nearing puberty, this information will be most useful as a bridge between books meant for preschoolers describing birth and those that tackle the process of maturation, sexuality, and the responsibilities and choices that come with growing up. The illustrations are excellent: colorful and cartoonlike, yet clear in their representation of human anatomy in both internal and external views. The layout and cover design will attract youngsters and their familiarity with this author/illustrator team will also add to its appeal. The greatest value of this work, however, will be in promoting dialogue between caregivers and children, especially if they read it together, but adults should be prepared to field many ancillary questions not covered in the text.Melissa Gross, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA
Kirkus Reviews
A well-intentioned but less than satisfactory picture book on sex education for primary-grade children, from the team behind Dinosaurs Die (1996), and other guides.

In simple words and drawings, the book covers anatomical differences (both external and internal) between boys and girls; rudimentary facts about sexual behavior (including masturbation), pregnancy, and birth; and information about "good" touching and "bad" touching. Set on a nearly impossible course, the book errs by providing both too much information and too little. Certain structures (e.g., clitoris, seminal vesicles, foreskin) are mentioned in the text or shown in diagrams with no further explanation. Intercourse is defined as "when a man and woman fit his penis into her vagina," but the diagrams of the male and female organs make such a "fit" inconceivable. That sperm and egg meet during intercourse is clear, but ejaculation and the motility of sperm are not mentioned, possibly giving rise to some alarming speculations about the mechanics of coitus. In the section about "bad touch" the child is advised to "speak up and tell him or her to stop. If that doesn't work, tell your mom or dad or another grown-up." A responsible adult should be informed of any inappropriate touching. The laudable ambition—to make it easier for parents to talk with their children—is only partially realized.

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Product Details

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication date:
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
10.84(w) x 8.12(h) x 0.10(d)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

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Meet the Author

Laurie Krasny Brown is an author, educator, and parent committed to providing answers to the questions children have. She has written many books, including the popular Dino Tales: Life Guides for Families series, illustrated by her husband, Marc Brown.

Marc Brown is the creator of the bestselling Arthur Adventure book series and co-developer of the children's PBS television series, Arthur. He has also created a second book series, featuring D.W., Arthur's little sister, as well as numerous other books for children. Marc Brown lives with his family in Tisbury, Massachusetts, on Martha's Vineyard.

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What's the Big Secret? 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 21 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I bought this book in hopes that I could begin discussion with my curious 8 year old son. The book at a whole was informative and well written. The only area I had concern about was when it talked about conception. It used the word intercourse and that was more of a word than I wanted to introduce at this time. The other book I used had a more "Mom and dad make a choice to have a child" without using the word intercourse. I did not think he was in need to that sex talk yet but rather was looking for a biology explanation of sperm and egg. I plan on holding onto it and waiting a year or so to bring it out for discussion. I was just not ready for some of it vocabulary.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As a single mother of a young boy without a male role model, I was nervous about approaching this subject. I read the book myself first, so I would be prepared for any questions; or so I hoped. We read the book together the first time. Now I find my son reading it to himself occasionally, always followed by another question. I would recommend this book to any and every one.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am a Registered Nurse and Mom to wo very curious boys, ages 7 and 9. This book was a great starting point to our conversatiopn about the birds and bees and everything in between.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I got this for my 5 year old. We've read it several times and I've even caught him correcting his 2 year old brother on the facts of life. The book makes a complicated topic easy for youngsters to understand. A great tool for starting sex dialog early.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought the book was Good until I got to the page about masturbation. I wish that part was left out of the book. The rest of it was good and not too embarassing for either parent or child.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Told every in a mater of fact way that kids would understand. Not too graphic either. Very well done, of all the books I checked out, this one was the best.
lbaker More than 1 year ago
It was ok until it started talking about masturbation. I really don't think that's something you need to explain to a child. I skipped that page
mrsschoch More than 1 year ago
this book was very helpful in a starting conversation with my two kids on sex and their bodies. I wanted to be the voice they were listening to about sex, not classmates or friends. Keeping the conversation open is key. I would recommend this to anyone of my friends with children. I will also say that it is equally great for both boys and girls.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I also thought this book was just right for starting the conversation with our 9-year-old son. It is written just as well and appropriately for girls. It does explain what intercourse is, but very matter of factly. There are so many pictures and other graphics that your child may not even read/notice that part until later, or unless you bring it up in a follow up discussion. I was not bothered by the paragraph on masturbation because it leads naturally into a discussion of inappropriate touching by other people, which is important. We got the book from our church library, so I knew it would be good (liberal church, mind you). Thanks so much to the authors for doing such a great job with such a delicate topic. It's so important to communicate this correctly to your young children.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
is it for boys or girls? i really need 2 know.ps if you want a gf, type your number!or email!
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Just the right amount of information for your initial conversation on this subject. Thank you so much Marc and Laurie Brown. This book made what for some is a stress filled subject very easy to explore with both my 7 1/2 and 10 year old!