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
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 ambitionto make it easier for parents to talk with their childrenis only partially realized.