Sex Is a Funny Word: A Book About Bodies, Feelings, and You

illus. by Fiona Smyth. 160p. glossary. Seven Stories. 2015. Tr $23.95. ISBN 9781609806064.
RedReviewStarGr 2–6—Silverberg and Smyth follow up their book for younger readers, What Makes a Baby (Triangle Square, 2013), with this engaging introduction to gender, bodies, and relationships. A diverse cast of cartoon kids—in terms of appearance, ability, and point of view—explore the multiple meanings of the word sex with their teacher, friends, and family members. There is a heavy emphasis on the importance of thinking for oneself and developing one's own opinions. The language is conversational and accessible, as well as direct, fastidiously accurate, and entirely gender-neutral. Each section ends with conversation-provoking questions, reinforcing the suggestion that the book be read and shared in conversation with a trusted adult. What makes this volume exceptional is its introduction of the subjects of transgender identity, intersex conditions, and masturbation. The quality text is enhanced and brought to life by comics drawn with bold lines on bright, full-bleed pages. Smyth's illustrations are interactive, fun, and edifying, presenting a range of body types and diversity. Despite the title, the topic of sexual intercourse is not covered; but Silverberg prepares readers for this information by introducing concepts such as respect, trust, and joy.
VERDICT Exciting, enlightening, and innovative, this book addresses timeless questions about sex for a new generation of kids who are increasingly aware of the broad spectrum of gender and sexual identities.

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