Moving up in target audience from their explanation of reproduction, What Makes a Baby (2013), Silverberg and Smyth explore various meanings for the word “sex.”
In their own ways, Zai, Cooper, Mimi, and Omar respond to information in chapters about bodies, “Boys, Girls, All of Us,” touch, language, and “Crushes, Love, and Relationships.” With skin tones in unlikely shades (blue! purple! green!) and wildly diverse crowd scenes, chances are good that any reader can identify with someone in these pages. Refreshingly, these crowds are diverse in a way that does not appear assembled by checklist. Lively design, bright, clashing colors, cartoon-style illustrations, comic strips, and plenty of humor support the informal, inclusive approach. Each chapter ends with questions to think and talk about. The author’s respect for different approaches to the subject comes through. No actual sexual activities are described except for masturbation, in the chapter that also deals with “secret touches.” The gender chapter tells how gender is assigned but notes “there are more than two kinds of bodies.” The character Zai doesn’t identify as either boy or girl. Illustrations show body parts of kids and grown-ups (nipples, breasts, bottoms, and parts biologically specific to boys or girls) demonstrating wide variety. Puberty will be addressed in a third title.
This carefully thought-out explanation may surprise but should be widely appreciated. (glossary) (Nonfiction.7-10)