Friday, 27 May 2022

New York Times You Know, Sex Review

 Yay!!!! We made the New York Times children's book review!!!!!!!!!!!

"If your kids have reached the point where things are excruciating, or just more complicated, they might be the perfect audience for “You Know, Sex,” written by Cory Silverberg and illustrated by Fiona Smyth (the award-winning team behind “What Makes a Baby” and “Sex Is a Funny Word”).

At more than 400 pages it’s a comprehensive look at sexuality, body differences, body autonomy, gender, puberty, consent, menstruation, reproduction — the whole shebang. As I read it, I was overcome with joy that kids will have access to such an engaging resource. (By comparison, I recall receiving a three-panel pamphlet at school produced and printed by a menstrual products company. Thanks, Playtex!)

The pure energy of Smyth’s art sets the tone for the entire work. Her bold colors make the subject matter feel like a celebration rather than something quiet and private. The characters aren’t just diverse, they’re a veritable rainbow of skin tones. They’re also relatable and beautiful while openly challenging social constructs about conventional beauty. The scenarios she draws take on our culture of racism, colorism, ableism, body shaming and more, with empowering results.

Silverberg’s writing is fearless, digging into the messiness of the human experience with an eye toward justice. Here is that rare voice that can talk about the hardest things kids go through in ways that are thoughtful, lighthearted and always respectful of their intelligence.

This is not your everyday puberty resource.

“You Know, Sex” is an important book, and not only for the breadth of issues it covers. Silverberg portrays adolescence with tremendous honesty, and demonstrates a clear love for young readers.

In an age when many adults are turning away from providing kids with the information they need to grow and thrive (I’m looking at you, “Don’t Say Gay” legislators in Florida!), here is a kids’ book that discusses things like nonbinary and trans identities, variously shaped clitorises and penises, H.I.V. stigma, sexual pleasure, miscarriage, asexual feelings and abortion. It gives kids an opportunity to explore these real aspects of living in the world, on their own timetable and at their own pace — without resorting to internet porn. (Oh yeah, it also talks about porn.)

While L.G.B.T.Q. and other marginalized communities are often relegated to the periphery in kid lit, here they play a central role. All our identities, bodies, families and emotions are embraced, so all readers can feel seen, “normal,” valid and connected. Isn’t that what every adolescent needs?

Silverberg has two outstanding abilities. First, to present tough topics in a warm, human-centered and affirming style. Second, to help kids figure out the answers to their questions by reflecting back at them the humor, pathos and raw beauty of adolescence.

Adults, too, should read “You Know, Sex,” as it counters the harmful narratives around sex and bodies with which we’ve all grown up."

NEW YORK TIMES: Rachel Brian, animator of the “Tea Consent” video, is the author of two books for young people: “Consent (for Kids!)” and “The Worry (Less) Book.”