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Amazing You!: Getting Smart About Your Private Parts Paperback – January 31, 2008
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From School Library Journal
PreSchool-Grade 1–This title tackles basic body awareness and sex education. The text speaks directly to young children, differentiating between body parts that are visible most of the time and those that are kept hidden, showing the differences between girls and boys and offering a simple explanation of how babies are made without explicit reference to sex. Cravath's sunny cartoons show the various parts in a straightforward manner, though preschoolers may be confused about where the internal ones are. The text also uses terms such as "vagina" and "urinate" without actually explaining what they mean, and, curiously, the text does not discuss breasts at all, though there are side-by-side illustrations of a boy and girl in the baby, preschool, and adult stages. An author's note advises parents on the finer points of discussing these delicate issues. Though Laurie Krasny Brown's What's the Big Secret?: Talking about Sex with Girls and Boys (Little, Brown, 1997) remains the gold standard for sex ed for young children, this book is a friendly supplement or a nice starter for parents who aren't quite ready to go into the detail provided in Brown's book.–Kathleen Kelly MacMillan, Maryland School for the Deaf, Columbia
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
PreS-Gr. 2. This upbeat picture book, illustrated with sunny cartoon drawings, introduces kids to basic reproductive physiology. Saltz offers simple, accessible definitions of terms, accompanied by pictures of unclothed kids and labeled diagrams of internal organs. Subsequent drawings show three stages of body development from baby to young adult, followed by an abbreviated explanation, illustrated with a heart-shaped drawing of a smiling egg and sperm, of reproduction: "When a man and a woman love each other and decide that they want to have a baby, a man's sperm joins with a woman's egg. From the egg and sperm, a baby will grow." The book is more specific about birth: "The baby will come out of the mother's vagina, which is very, very stretchy." Saltz presents the information clearly in a cheerful, positive tone, encouraging kids to learn about their private parts and reassuring them that curiosity and touching themselves (in private) is natural. For a slightly older audience, Dori Hillestad Butler's exemplary picture book My Mom's Having a Baby (2005) explains the facts of life in more detail. Gillian Engberg
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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The amount of body shaming they wish to impart upon children is horrifying. They're apoplectic that a children's book would suggest that "It's perfectly natural to be curious about your private parts and to want to touch them. But this is something you should do only in a private place, like your room."
The horror that a book would use medically accurate terms and show cartoon drawing of genitals was so offensive to one woman she said she burned it and "that no child or even adult needs this much info unless they're a doctor!"
I included photos of the most technical this book gets, which is still extremely basic and stuff EVERYONE should know. How this can be offensive is completely beyond me.
Parents- there are too many unwanted pregnancies, STDs, and sexual abuse victims out there to allow your child to grow up in ignorance and shame when it comes to sex. Start early, start often. This book is an excellent place to start, even though it leaves out intercourse completely.
Spoiler alert. ;) Some details that might help you decide whether this book is for you:
- The book is not narrative-based, but rather a step-by-step discussion of various aspects of anatomy, development, and how babies come to be.
- The cover children are white Europeans and many of the inside illustrations follow suit. That said, the authors did include other races in the book. THAT said, the example family in the make-a-baby scenario is white.
- The unstated assumption throughout the book is that people who are making a baby are a race-matched man and woman who love each other. If your family is mixed race, if you are a single parent, if you are two Moms who had a baby, if you adopted a baby made by someone else, etc... your family is not overtly depicted. That's not to say this book is useless to you, but of course more discussion is needed beyond the scenarios depicted here, and other books might do a better job in terms of having your kid identify with the illustrations. (In my opinion, even the book's perfect target audience would do well to discuss the fact that your family is not the only kind of loving family set-up out there. But at least the illustrations are less potentially confusing in your case.)
- There is a page that depicts a baby boy next to a preschool boy next to an adult man, in full frontal nudity, to contrast developmental stages and illustrate how the body changes; the page next to it does the same for girls. We are not embarrassed by nudity in our family, and teach context (when is it appropriate to be naked versus not), but some families might be uncomfortable with these pages.
- There are pages for both boys and girls that show what the "inside" anatomy looks like. The book uses accurate medical terminology to describe many anatomy details ("labia", "scrotum", "urethra", etc.). Some of this is more detail than our kid needs right now, but will be extra information for a later time. We initially just gloss over some things to avoid getting muddled in details.
- The book talks about how a sperm and egg join to make a baby. One silly detail: the cartoon sperm and egg are smiling and saying "hi" at each other. In an otherwise fairly realistic book, this is a bit fanciful. (Our kid likes to point out that this isn't "really" what they look like and that eggs and sperm don't have faces; it's a source of humor.)
- There is NO depiction of sexual intercourse in either words or images. "Amazing You" skips from talking about a man and woman loving each other and deciding to make a baby right to picturing the meeting of the egg and sperm, leaving the adults to decide whether to fill in the in-between detail.
- There is a page that shows a baby in-utero and a description of what the umbilical cord does.
- There is discussion of what happens during labor (that the uterus pushes the baby out and the vagina stretches to allow the baby to fit). None of this is shown in pictures (the pictures are of an excited-looking couple contemplating the pregnant belly and then a hospital room image of a doctor handing Mom the baby with umbilical cord still attached while another person-with-surgical-mask and Dad look on, and no Mom-private-parts are shown).
- There is a page that talks about self-exploration, discussing how curiosity is natural and that touching private parts is a private act. (The accompanying picture is of a closed door with a "private" sign on it, and the family dog running in the hallway outside.) Some readers may find this discussion offensive and possibly above the level of the intended audience. From a developmental perspective, it is normal for very young children (yes, including those who have not been confronted with the horror of abuse) to touch their private parts and find them interesting; it would be strange if they found their toes fascinating, but completely ignored another, equally interesting, part of themselves. This page offers an opportunity to address healthy boundaries for such behavior without shaming the child for normal curiosity. It can also be skipped if it doesn't yet seem relevant to the child. Or it might be a deal-breaker for you on this book if this topic is just not something you're comfortable discussing (yet, or ever) with your child.
Overall, I think this is a great book. Our kid loves reading it and discussing how things work, and is proud to know more about the topic. The images are graphic but innocent in nature, and helpful for a real conversation about private parts. If you're like us and want to be open about this topic, I'd recommend trying this book. If you want to take this conversation a little slower, or the details described above are not in line with what you're looking for: save your money for another book.