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Page history last edited by RichiesPicks 8 years, 6 months ago

30 August 2011 WHO HAS WHAT? ALL ABOUT GIRLS' BODIES AND BOYS' BODIES by Robie H. Harris and Nadine Bernard Westcott, ill. Candlewick Press, September 2011, 32p., ISBN: 978-0-7636-2931-1


"No one knows my body better than me

It tells me "Let's eat!', it tells me "Go pee!'"

-- Peter Alsop, "My Body"


"Lucky Trimble crouched in a wedge of shade behind the Dumpster. Her ear near a hole in the paint-chipped wall of Hard Pan's Found Object Wind Chime Museum and Visitor Center, she listened as Short Sammy told the story of how he hit rock bottom. How he quit drinking and found His Higher Power. Short Sammy's story, of all the rock-bottom stories Lucky had heard at twelve-step anonymous meetings -- alcoholics, gamblers, smokers, and overeaters -- was still her favorite.

"Sammy told of the day when he had drunk half a gallon of rum listening to Johnny Cash all morning in his parked '62 Cadillac, then fallen out of the car when he saw a rattlesnake on the passenger seat biting his dog, Roy, on the scrotum."

-- the opening passage of the 2007 Newbery Medal-winning THE HIGHER POWER OF LUCKY by Susan Patron


"Authors of children's books sometimes sneak in a single touchy word or paragraph, leaving librarians to choose whether to ban an entire book over one offending phrase.

"In the case of 'Lucky,' some of them take no chances. Wendy Stoll, a librarian at Smyrna Elementary in Louisville, Ky., wrote on the LM_Net mailing list that she would not stock the book. Andrea Koch, the librarian at French Road Elementary School in Brighton, N.Y., said she anticipated angry calls from parents if she ordered it. 'I don't think our teachers, or myself, want to do that vocabulary lesson,' she said in an interview."

-- from "With One Word, Children's Book Sets Off Uproar" by Julie Bosman, published February 18, 2007 in The New York Times


Fortunately, those teachers and librarians who, for four years, have shrunk away from teaching this vocabulary lesson, can now turn the task over to Robie H. Harris and Nadine Bernard Westcott. Harris, whose award winning book for tweens and adolescents, IT'S PERFECTLY NORMAL: CHANGING BODIES, GROWING UP, AND SEXUAL HEALTH, has sold well over a million copies worldwide since it was first published 17 years ago, has now crafted an essential and age-appropriate picturebook that provides an excellent human (and canine) anatomy lesson for preschoolers and younger elementary school students who might typically be curious about the similarities and differences between boys and girls.


While boys and girls are, for the most part, the same, here are the basic differences:


"Between their legs, girls, baby girls, and women have three openings. They have an opening where pee comes out, an opening to the vagina, and an opening where poop comes out.

"Boys, baby boys, and men do not have an opening to the vagina.

"Between their legs, boys, baby boys, and men have a penis, a scrotum, and two openings. They have an opening at the end of the penis where pee comes out and an opening where poop comes out.

"Girls, baby girls, and women do not have a penis or a scrotum."


Harris and Westcott go on to explain (and depict through Westcott's fun and loveable characters having a family day at the beach) how girls, baby girls, and women, exclusively, have a vagina, a uterus, and two ovaries, while boys, baby boys, and men, exclusively, have two testicles inside a scrotum.


In addition, so that librarians (worried about the vocabulary lesson attendant to THE HIGHER POWER OF LUCKY) don't have to delve into the fact that all of these aforementioned body parts are similarly parts of girl dogs versus boy dogs, the young characters in the story note these similarities as well as point out some of the body parts (i.e. tails and paws) that are parts of dogs but not parts of people, or that (i.e. pinkies and elbows) are parts of people but not parts of dogs.


"Where is thumbkin?  Where is thumbkin?

Here I am!  Here I am!"


Speaking from the perspective of an early childhood educator who spent many years 'on the floor' with preschoolers and kindergartners, I can tell you that it must make quite an impression on young children when, after doing so many different stories, songs, and movement games that involve body awareness and body parts, and after talking about healthy muscles and bones and teeth, we suddenly freak out about discussing scrotums in the same matter-of-fact fashion.


Speaking from the perspective of a children's librarian, WHO HAS WHAT? is an enjoyable and distinguished nonfiction picturebook that fills a significant need in children's collections.


Richie Partington, MLIS
Richie's Picks http://richiespicks.com
Moderator http://groups.yahoo.com/group/middle_school_lit/

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