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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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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FABLEHAVEN

Witty repartee between the central characters, as well as the occasional well-done set piece, isn’t enough to hold this hefty debut together. Teenagers Seth and Kendra are dropped off by traveling parents at their grandfather’s isolated Connecticut estate, and soon discover why he’s so reluctant to have them—the place is a secret haven for magical creatures, both benign and decidedly otherwise. Those others are held in check by a complicated, unwritten and conveniently malleable Compact that is broken on Midsummer Eve, leaving everyone except Kendra captive in a hidden underground chamber with a newly released demon. Mull’s repeated use of the same device to prod the plot along comes off as more labored than comic: Over and over an adult issues a stern but vague warning; Seth ignores it; does some mischief and is sorry afterward. Sometimes Kendra joins in trying to head off her uncommonly dense brother. She comes into her own at the rousing climax, but that takes a long time to arrive; stick with Michael Buckley’s “Sisters Grimm” tales, which carry a similar premise in more amazing and amusing directions. (Fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2006

ISBN: 1-59038-581-0

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Shadow Mountain

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2006

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