Tell Me: What Children Really Want to Know About Bodies, Sex and Emotions – Katharina von der Gathen, illustrated by Anke Kuhl

Tell Me: What Children Really Want to Know About Bodies, Sex and Emotions – Katharina von der Gathen, illustrated by Anke Kuhl, Gecko Press, 9781776572328, 2020

Format: Hardcover

Rating:  1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5

 What did you like about the book? This book is the effort of Katharina von der Gathen, a sex educator, who conducts workshops for children and teenagers. This book is comprised of 99 questions that were submitted from students around nine to ten years old. Every question is answered in this book along with detailed (very detailed and sometimes humorous) illustrations by Anke Kuhl. The book is small, about 5”x7” and is read vertically. The questions and an illustration appear on the bottom half of the page and the the answer is provided on the top half of the following page. This is the format throughout the book. The questions are written by the students so there are some spelling errors and phonic spelling of words. The questions cover a wide range of topics from the size and shape of a penis, the parts of the vulva, changes during puberty, menstration, being gay and having gay sex, diseases, teen pregnancy, why is sex embarrassing, rape and sexual harrassment, caesarean section, twins, sex shops, porn, masturbation, and even if people can have sex underwater–just about everything under the sun that deals with sex. The illustrations are humorus but the answers are very informative without judgment or opinion–this is evident with such topics as teen pregnancy, abortion, LGBTQ, and sex change operations. 

The illustrations provided by Anke Kuhl are very detailed, yet humorous. The reader sees a display of ten different penises, the entire vulva of a female, and people having sex. However, we also see a penis coiled around a man (the question of how long is a penis), a child ordering a pack of hormones at the pharmacy (the question of what is a hormone), a person covering their eyes on a nude beach (the question of why people are embarrassed by nudity), and a child asking his parents at the breakfast table if they had a bad dream last night (the question of why people moan and groan during sex).

Anything you did not like about the book. I did not like the way it was set up with the answer to the previous question on the top of the page and the illustration and the next question on the bottom of the page. While trying to read the answers, your eye was drawn to the graphic illustration below (hard to focus on diseases from sex when there is an illustration of triceratops humping just below it).

To whom would you recommend this book? This book states that the children in the study were ages nine to ten, but I would go a little older as well. Children all handle this material differently so what may be fine for a ten year old might be too much for someone else. Parents should review the material first.

Who should buy this book? I would not recommend this book for public or school libraries (just see how long it will remain in the collection!). Even though it is a very informational book and would be very helpful to some kids, I do not see a parent or child actually checking this out from a library or even a school health office–might work better as a personal purchase to discuss these topics privately with your child.

Where would you shelve it? I would not put it in a library collection.

 Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No, not for library use.

 Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Kristin Guay, former youth services librarian.

Date of review: March 5, 2020


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