Two intrepid librarians

Two intrepid librarians review the best nonfiction books for children

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Who Has What?: All about girls' bodies and boys' bodies by Robie H. Harris

Who Has What? All about girls' bodies and boys' bodies
Robie H. Harris; Illustrated by Nadine Bernard Westcott
Candlewick Press. 2011
ISBN: 9780763629311
Review copy obtained from the public library.

Just recently a parent came into the library and asked if we had any books on sex education. As I walked her to the 612's, the slightly bewildered mother said, "This morning at breakfast my three year old asked why she can't go pee like daddy? I thought these questions wouldn't come until she was older."  The harried mom would have found Who Has What?: All about girls' bodies and boys' bodies by Robie H. Harris useful.

Robie Harris has penned other great books to help preschoolers understand their bodies: "It's Perfectly Normal", "It's So Amazing", "It's NOT the Stork!"

As a mixed-race family is headed to the beach a reassuring narrative explains how there are lots of ways that girls and boys are similar.

"Boys and girls like to catch frogs, swing up high in the air, ride
scooters, and make a lot of noise. Girls and boys like to run fast,
play catch, and take their dollies and stuffed animals for a stroll."

But some parts of girl and boy bodies are not the same. "The parts that are different are what make you either a boy or a girl. And when you grow up, the parts that are different will make you a man or a woman."

Running parallel to the narrative is the ongoing conversation, told in speech balloons, between the sister and younger brother on their way to the beach. The two discuss, in childhood language, what makes them the same and different. They do sound just like two preschoolers carrying on a conversation in the backseat of the car.

Harris uses anatomically correct terms to explain the similarities between boys and girls -- neck, hands, fingers,nipples, waist, bottom, bellybutton -- to what makes them different -- scrotum, penis, vagina, testicle, ovary, uterus. Nadine Westcott's colorful, cartoon-like illustrations mirror the text.

Young children will take pleasure in seeing the many different families going about normal activities. It was nice to see a pregnant mom, a dad feeding an infant with a bottle, and another mom nursing a baby under a beach umbrella.

Harris' matter-of-fact tone and the inclusion of multicultural families makes this a good addition to public libraries.

5 Stars
Preschoolers, Ages 2-6

For more information on Robie Harris and her books, visit her web site

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