Sex is a Funny Word: A Book about Bodies, Feelings, and YOU by C. Silverberg & F. Smyth
Silverberg, Cory and Fiona Smyth. Sex is a Funny Word: A Book about Bodies, Feelings, and YOU. New York: Seven Stories Press, 2015. Print.
“Having a penis isn’t what makes you a boy. Having a vulva isn’t what makes you a girl. The truth is much more interesting than that!”
In a watershed year for transgender activism, Cory Silverberg and Fiona Smyth have broken ground with their trans-inclusive sex education book Sex is a Funny Word. This new release follows a cast of four 8-10 year old kids, including gender queer Zai, as they learn about and explore that strange and funny word - sex. Throughout the book, Smyth’s illustrations employ bright, opaque and high-contrast colours to great effect, and readers are exposed to characters of wonderfully diverse abilities, races, shapes and sexualities.
It is however reductive to merely draw attention to the diversity in Sex is a Funny Word, as a wide gamut of topics are discussed with age-appropriate aplomb, including anatomy, “touch” and relationships. Silverberg’s opening notes to adult readers provide tips for co-reading the book with children, explaining that the text is meant to be read over many sittings to aid comprehension and reflection. By bookending each chapter with interactive questions, readers identify and reflect on personal morals anchored in four concepts - trust, respect, joy and justice. These questions do the hard work for parents, who can defer to one of the lively and inquisitive characters for discussion points. Moreover, the only sexual activity mentioned in this book is masturbation, so even the most squeamish adult readers should feel comfortable co-reading Sex is a Funny Word.
Sex is a Funny Word is the second of a three-part, age-specific sex education series written by Silverberg and illustrated by Smyth. Those with younger children can find reproduction discussed in What Makes a Baby, while intercourse will specifically be covered in the series’ next title. For a positive, fun and healthy introduction to these concepts, parents and librarians will be well-served by seeking out Sex is a Funny Word for their collection.
Highly Recommended: 4 out of 4 stars
Reviewer: Kyle Marshall
Kyle Marshall is the School-Aged Services Intern Librarian for Edmonton Public Library. He graduated with his MLIS from the University of Alberta in June 2015, and is passionate about diversity in children's and youth literature.
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