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What's the Big Secret?: Talking about Sex with Girls and Boys Hardcover – September 1, 1997


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; 1st edition (September 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316109150
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316109154
  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 8.5 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (80 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #700,185 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Using straight text as well as cartoons including dialogue balloons, this "chatty yet frank" book, according to PW, "will put young readers--and their parents--totally at ease." Ages 4-8. (Apr.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From School Library Journal

PreSchool-Grade 3?How 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
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

I was very pleased with how book was written and with the diagrams.
Lisa P
He has bee reading it off and on and knows that if he has a question to ALWAYS ask us.
D. Watson
We gave our son a week to look over the book and read it several times.
The Robicheauxs

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

165 of 169 people found the following review helpful By M. Leboeuf on June 17, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Last summer I read this book to my then just turned 7 & just turned 4 yr old and the youngest was completely clueless as to what I trying to get across. The oldest understood somewhat, wasn't all that interested, but still managed to let a few giggles out. She took the book and read it herself. When I later asked her if she had any questions for me, she had none but commented that it was "embarrassing". The book was put away to age a little longer....
Earlier this week I re-read the book to both of them, now almost 5 and almost 8. The 5 yr old is still clueless and bored with all of it. The 8 yr old seemed a bit more interested and less embarrassed. She took the book and again read it to herself and asked a few "why" questions but nothing I couldn't handle.
In my opinion, this book is great for 7 - 10 yr olds (1st - 3rd grade), not the pre-school - grade 3 that it is catagorized. Enough for 7 - 10 yr olds to comprehend and enough for this age to know. Not overwhelming in technical terms or detail nor is it written in baby terms. I agree with a previous reviewer. When the teen years arrive, more information, terms & detail will need to be divulged but for this pre-teen age. For pre-teens, this book is perfect.
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60 of 61 people found the following review helpful By Lost-July on July 26, 2012
Format: Paperback
I work with children, and one day a 10 yr old girl comes and tells me that a 9 yr old boy came up to her and said, "I know you have big secret! You have a v, etc etc. and I have a p etc etc. Do you know you can rub it and it will feel good? You love *****, so you and him should do sexual intercourse, and the both of you will feel wonderful"

I spoke to the boy and was told about this book, so curious I got a copy of it. My personal opinion is that because this book's target audience is younger children, it needs to decide what it wants to be. A book to teach about gender differences, sexuality, the reproductive cycle, personal safety or the pleasures of sex. My other problem with this book is its title. Children love secrets, and the minute the word secret if attached to anything, it becomes to most children that proverbial forbidden fruit.

Frankly, as an educator, I think the terminology etc is alright, however, thanks to media exposure, our children are being introduced to the idea of "boyfriend and girlfriend love" so young but without the maturity, touting the pleasures of masturbation and saying having sexual intercourse "feels wonderful" with someone you love can become iffy.

So, my two cent's share here is, better to have dropped the part about masturbation, and included the words, adults who love each other and want to have a baby to share their love in the section introducing sexual intercourse to discourage immature minds from thinking, "if it feels wonderful, I would like to do it too!" Yes, yes, I know it is there in a tiny speech balloon, but I think it would be better to make it a part of the text.

My opinion is, use this book with care, supervision and adult moderation as there are some grey areas which can be misconstrued by children and may lead to the very problems parents bought this book to avoid.
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59 of 62 people found the following review helpful By Terri on September 3, 2003
Format: Paperback
I read this with my 8 year old daughter. She loved the book, and understood the information without being embarrassed. I really liked how it explained the differences between good, loving touches; and bad, uncomfortable touches. I would say this book is best for children over the age of 6. It may be too advanced for the younger ones.
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43 of 44 people found the following review helpful By "smilinjene" on January 15, 2004
Format: Paperback
I bought this book for my 6 year old step-daughter. She's started asking questions about what a boy looks like and why I won't be having a baby with her daddy (she thinks it just happens because you get married). The pictures in this book are just right for a 6 year old, and there isn't too much information. It certainly settled her "need to know" crisis, and The "I'll show you mine if you show me yours" incident on the playground that I had a nightmare about.
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Mommy of Two on March 20, 2006
Format: Paperback
My daughter has been asking more and more questions about the differences between boys and girls and about how babies grow (due in part to the number of family members who are currently pregnant). We answer her very frankly, and she seems satisfied with our responses; however, we thought it might be a good idea to read her a book that could perhaps show her some illustrations and present some information we might not have addressed fully, to clarify a little more.

This book is a pretty good attempt. While, I would have liked to have seen some more illustrations (sperm fertizing egg, the various stages of baby), and more detailed information on such issues as how twins are made, birth defects, c-sections, and more info about what occurs during a period; overall, I think this book is the best out there for her age. "Amazing You: Getting Smart About Your Private Parts" by Gail Saltz seemed too vague, and geared to younger children, and "It's So Amazing! A Book About Eggs, Sperm, Birth, Babies, and Families" by Robie H. Harris seemed a bit too in depth for my daughter.

I think "What's the Big Secret" works well for the preschool group. The illustrations are whimiscal, and it's written in a way that appeals to young kids. My daughter really seemed to like it.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 17, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read this to my seven year old son who enjoyed the pictures and the humor and the facts. It was a comfortable book to read and it sparked a lot of questions and conversation. I would definitely recommend it to the 5-7 year old age group.
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