Laurie Krasny Brown is a fine artist as well as author, educator, and parent committed to providing answers to the questions children have about real-life issues. She has written many books, including How to Be a Friend, When Dinosaurs Die, and Dinosaurs Divorce from the popular Dino Tales: Life Guides for Families series. She lives with her husband, illustrator Marc Brown, in New York City and Tisbury, Massachusetts.
The creators of When Dinosaurs Die and Dinosaurs Divorce gracefully tackle another topic that is potentially problematic for youngsters‘this time without dinosaur characters. Marc Brown's familiar renderings of bouncy kids and their parents fill these brightly hued, cheerfully cluttered pages, helping to put young readers‘and their parents‘totally at ease. Using straight text as well as cartoons that include dialogue balloons, the narrative does likewise. The delivery is chatty yet frank, and avoids talking down as the authors discuss how boys and girls differ (concluding that they're more alike than not, except for certain physical characteristics); the importance of respecting others' feelings and privacy, including that "no one has the right to touch you in a way that feels wrong or uncomfortable"; how conception occurs and why "the womb is a perfect first home." Although some of the issues may be sophisticated for the lower end of the age range (e.g., "Inside the fertilized egg is information about how to shape this new life. These instructions, called genes, decide such things as a baby's skin color"), this is a suitably simplified, lucid introduction to sex and reproduction. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)
PreS-Gr 3‘How can you tell a boy from a girl? What are the proper terms for genitalia? How do you make a baby? Where does a belly button come from? The Browns answer these and similar questions in an honest, but superficial way that will satisfy some youngsters, but leave others with many questions unanswered. Overly detailed for younger children and too incomplete for those nearing puberty, this information will be most useful as a bridge between books meant for preschoolers describing birth and those that tackle the process of maturation, sexuality, and the responsibilities and choices that come with growing up. The illustrations are excellent: colorful and cartoonlike, yet clear in their representation of human anatomy in both internal and external views. The layout and cover design will attract youngsters and their familiarity with this author/illustrator team will also add to its appeal. The greatest value of this work, however, will be in promoting dialogue between caregivers and children, especially if they read it together, but adults should be prepared to field many ancillary questions not covered in the text.‘Melissa Gross, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA