IT'S PERFECTLY NORMAL

A BOOK ABOUT CHANGING BODIES, GROWING UP, SEX, AND SEXUAL HEALTH

Illustrator Emberley (Welcome Back, Sun, 1993, etc.) has teamed up with Harris (Hot Henry, 1987, etc.) to present more ethnic and sexual diversity than New York City's Rainbow Curriculum ever bargained for as they battle all concepts non-PC: They take swings at ageism (``People have sexual intercourse well into old age'') and at homophobia in the military (pointing out that, in ancient Sparta, it was thought ``that if a warrior was in the same regiment as his lover, he would fight harder in order to impress him''). But there's more information than polemic here, as the reader is guided by a corny but never condescending pair—an uninhibited bird and a repressed bee—through puberty, anatomy, reproduction, and a sense of the emotional weight that accompanies sexuality. The book intelligently covers birth-control options, how to have safer sex, how to treat STDs, and, in an especially impressive chapter, how to combat sexual abuse—all without patronizing the pre- or post-pubescent. Emberley's illustrations are often as funny as they are informative. With affirmations of homosexuality and masturbation—``it's perfectly normal''—and a choice-leaning (yet cautious) discussion on abortion, this volume will be anathema to social conservatives. But for parents who fear that a school sex-ed class may not be informative enough, it will certainly aid that dreaded birds-and-bees discussion. A terrific teaching tool that just may help slow the spread of sexual diseases and ignorance. (Nonfiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1994

ISBN: 1-56402-199-8

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1994

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ASK ME NO QUESTIONS

Illegal immigrant sisters learn a lot about themselves when their family faces deportation in this compelling contemporary drama. Immigrants from Bangladesh, Nadira, her older sister Aisha and their parents live in New York City with expired visas. Fourteen-year-old Nadira describes herself as “the slow-wit second-born” who follows Aisha, the family star who’s on track for class valedictorian and a top-rate college. Everything changes when post-9/11 government crack-downs on Muslim immigrants push the family to seek asylum in Canada where they are turned away at the border and their father is arrested by U.S. immigration. The sisters return to New York living in constant fear of detection and trying to pretend everything is normal. As months pass, Aisha falls apart while Nadira uses her head in “a right way” to save her father and her family. Nadira’s need for acceptance by her family neatly parallels the family’s desire for acceptance in their adopted country. A perceptive peek into the lives of foreigners on the fringe. (endnote) (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2006

ISBN: 1-4169-0351-8

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Ginee Seo/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2005

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WHAT THE MOON SAW

When Clara Luna, 14, visits rural Mexico for the summer to visit the paternal grandparents she has never met, she cannot know her trip will involve an emotional and spiritual journey into her family’s past and a deep connection to a rich heritage of which she was barely aware. Long estranged from his parents, Clara’s father had entered the U.S. illegally years before, subsequently becoming a successful business owner who never spoke about what he left behind. Clara’s journey into her grandmother’s history (told in alternating chapters with Clara’s own first-person narrative) and her discovery that she, like her grandmother and ancestors, has a gift for healing, awakens her to the simple, mystical joys of a rural lifestyle she comes to love and wholly embrace. Painfully aware of not fitting into suburban teen life in her native Maryland, Clara awakens to feeling alive in Mexico and realizes a sweet first love with Pedro, a charming goat herder. Beautifully written, this is filled with evocative language that is rich in imagery and nuance and speaks to the connections that bind us all. Add a thrilling adventure and all the makings of an entrancing read are here. (glossaries) (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2006

ISBN: 0-385-73343-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2006

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