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What's the Big Secret?: Talking about Sex with Girls and Boys Paperback – April 1, 2000

4.2 out of 5 stars 110 customer reviews

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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.

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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 7 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Paperback: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; Reprint edition (April 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316101834
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316101837
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 0.1 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (110 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #19,884 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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By A Customer 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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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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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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Format: Paperback
My kid checked this out from the library and I read over it. I think the content is appropriate for children, but I don't like the theme of sexualtiy and sex being a "big secret" and I'm annoyed by the constant reference to embarassed parents having to talk to their kids about sex. By discussing sexual things frankly with my children I'm trying to avoid the whole shame-y or mysterious air.

My main complaint though, is that the diagram of the female reproductive system. I cannot believe this thing made it through the whole editing process and got printed. The cervix is pictured as an entirely independent structure-- kind of like a mini uterus, with a squiggly tube connecting it to the uterus. The book is only doing *one* thing, and if it can't even realistically depict a uterus/cervix...well, that's a pretty egregious failure, as far as I'm concerned.
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Format: Paperback
I bought this book for my eight year old son who was already posing questions like, "What is sex ?". I found the book informative enough to answer his innocent questions, yet delicate enough to address when talking about sex is appropriate and who to talk to if you have more questions than the book answers. We gave our son a week to look over the book and read it several times. At the end of the week, both his father and I sat down with him to answer any questions he might still have. To our delight, the only question remaining in his mind was how to pronounce the word...
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