Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4
Genre: Education/Nonfiction (Graphic Novel format)
What did you like about the book? This small comic covers the big topic of sex education. The authors utilize a personable yet no-nonsense tone to discuss the basics of puberty, gender, sexuality, relationships, and more in a way that will appeal to and be easy to understand for its intended middle grade audience. The fictional and diverse characters offer various perspectives and possible internal monologues that readers may have, allowing the book to be relatable and, when accompanied by the graphic novel format, letting readers to focus on learning rather than deciphering various technical terms.
Each small chapter is two to six pages in length, covering several topics in a crash-course-esque manner by offering the basics in terms of explanations and definitions. While this likely won’t offer readers answers to all their questions, it’s a fantastic starting point as it will lessen feelings of anxiety or “otherness” that many young people experience. Above all, the authors ensure they repeat that respect and consent are important in all situations and that your feelings, thoughts, and beliefs about yourself matter more than what others may think, creating a veritable “safe space” for readers.
The illustrations work well with the combination of prose and dialog to parse information. For example, the chapter on consent demonstrates the concept with two cats and a ball of yarn; only when both cats agree to play with the yarn together are both of them happy. Some interactive pages reinforce lessons and allow readers space to consider their own feelings.
Anything you didn’t like about it? As the book is so short, it will likely need to be paired with another title for readers to explore more about topics they’re curious about. Additionally, the interactive pages, while great for individual copies, will not be usable in a library setting.
To whom would you recommend this book? Recommended for ages 11+. These titles are more often checked out by caregivers hoping to gently educate their charges, but plenty of kids may seek out this book (and others) on their own.
Who should buy this book? Libraries that serve a middle grade population.
Where would you shelve it ? Middle grade/YA nonfiction. The answer is dependent on your collection layout. The area where you’ve shelved titles like What’s Happening to My Body will be a good spot for this book as well.
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No. Just keep it in mind for when caregivers and kids need books to answer their questions.
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Melissa McCleary, Pembroke Public Library, Pembroke, MA
Date of review: September 7, 2019