Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Review - Tell Me About Sex, Grandma

Tell Me About Sex, Grandma

by Anastasia Higginbotham
Date: 2017
Publisher: The Feminist Press at the City University of New York
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 64
Format: e-book
Source: library

Patiently forthcoming with lessons your parents redacted, this necessary conversation stresses consent, sex positivity, and the right to be curious about your body. The dialogue focuses on the dynamics of sex, rather than the mechanics, as Grandma reminds readers that sex is not marriage or reproduction, and doesn’t look the same for everyone. Instead, each person’s sexuality is their very own to discover, explore, and share if they choose.

Anastasia Higginbotham’s tell stories of children navigating trouble with their senses on alert and their souls intact. Her previous books include Divorce Is the Worst and Death Is Stupid.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

When I read the introduction, I had high hopes for this book. While I think the intention is admirable, I'm not sure if the book really accomplishes what it sets out to do.

A child is curious about sex. After trying to find some info online (and obviously getting completely grossed out, judging by their facial expressions), they turn to Grandma for some wisdom.

I knew the basics from a very young age. I never had to wonder where babies came from. I knew the simplified version of human anatomy. A book like this, being as vague as it is, might have confused a child like me because it dances around so many concepts that are involved in sex. Other than the word "sex", there's no other specific terminology. When the child asks where they will feel "the feelings", there's a collage implying a sort of vague swirl that encompasses the whole torso. This vagueness, I fear, could backfire, especially in cases of abuse where a child might not realize what's happening. Abuse is covered somewhat, but mostly in a "kids never have sex; it's an adult thing" sort of way. And there's a somewhat confusing bit on page 63 about choice, which seems to imply that, hey, sometimes you won't have a choice in the matter, but it's good enough to know what you want. This bothered me.

I'm not sure that kids who ask, "What is sex?" will be satisfied with the answer given here: "It's a grown-up thing." I certainly wouldn't have been. But maybe this would work better for kids who have been kept in the dark about their bodies and how they work.

Premise: 3/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 3/5
Illustrations: 3/5
Originality: 3/5

Enjoyment: 3/5

Overall: 3 out of 5

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