WHAT'S THE BIG SECRET?

TALKING ABOUT SEX WITH GIRLS AND BOYS

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. (Picture book/nonfiction. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-316-10915-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1997

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THE EARTH BOOK

Parr adds to his successful series of easy-to-understand, vibrantly illustrated stories with this ecologically themed offering for younger children. He uses a simple, repetitive structure written in first person: “I [do this worthwhile activity] / and [this one] because… // I love [this aspect of nature] / and I want [this to happen].” This structural format works well to bring complex issues such as global warming into a simple context that kids can connect with. The text reads smoothly and poetically, but children may need some additional explanation from an adult to understand the logic behind the actions and resulting benefits. The cheerful illustrations include children of all colors (real and make-believe) and recognizable animals with wildly imaginary color schemes. A concluding note from the author offers encouraging words about taking care of the environment, and the reverse of the book jacket includes a list of ten ways to save the Earth. His approach to this complex topic is simple but not simplistic, and this introduction to the subject is both useful and entertaining. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-316-04265-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 18, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2010

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Formulaic but not stale…even if it does mine previous topical material rather than expand it.

HOW DO DINOSAURS SHOW GOOD MANNERS?

From the How Do Dinosaurs…? series

A guide to better behavior—at home, on the playground, in class, and in the library.

Serving as a sort of overview for the series’ 12 previous exercises in behavior modeling, this latest outing opens with a set of badly behaving dinos, identified in an endpaper key and also inconspicuously in situ. Per series formula, these are paired to leading questions like “Does she spit out her broccoli onto the floor? / Does he shout ‘I hate meat loaf!’ while slamming the door?” (Choruses of “NO!” from young audiences are welcome.) Midway through, the tone changes (“No, dinosaurs don’t”), and good examples follow to the tune of positive declarative sentences: “They wipe up the tables and vacuum the floors. / They share all the books and they never slam doors,” etc. Teague’s customary, humongous prehistoric crew, all depicted in exact detail and with wildly flashy coloration, fill both their spreads and their human-scale scenes as their human parents—no same-sex couples but some are racially mixed, and in one the man’s the cook—join a similarly diverse set of sibs and other children in either disapprobation or approving smiles. All in all, it’s a well-tested mix of oblique and prescriptive approaches to proper behavior as well as a lighthearted way to play up the use of “please,” “thank you,” and even “I’ll help when you’re hurt.”

Formulaic but not stale…even if it does mine previous topical material rather than expand it. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-36334-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Blue Sky/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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