Cover Image: What's Down There?

What's Down There?

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Member Reviews

Yeah.... I found this book disappointing. I am wholly in support of its mission which is why I requested it. As a certified nurse-midwife I know all the evidence about teaching kids the correct names for their anatomy, as well as modeling consent and boundaries. As a mother I'm searching desperately for tools to facilitate this. I hoped this book would be the one but it's just not. The rhymes are too twee, the messaging is too confusing (all the treasure cave and oyster talk and turtle imagery?), and the story was either written poorly or incorporated some unclear point-of-view shifts. It's entirely possible these things wouldn't bother my kid, but they do bother me. So I guess we'll stick with me explaining anatomy from a half-price coloring book based off Gray's Anatomy (the book, not the tv show) I got from a medical school bookstore. 

The back matter and notes were excellent for the caregivers of children. As a healthcare professional who believes that change starts young, I'd love to hand that material to every new parent and have them read it. Better yet, prenatally for families who give birth, upon adoption or taking over care as applicable for other families. Also every childcare provider. I thought it was explained very well here - but then again, I already knew the facts, so I'm not really an objective audience.
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There is definitely a need for books that clearly explain to kids information about their genitalia in a clear and concise manner.  But What's' Down There feels like it misses the mark. The illustrations feel odd, and the fact that two male children are in a book about female anatomy feels weird. The best part of this is information for adults in the back of the book.
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This is a good book for having healthy conversations about female bodies and respectful interactions aimed at very young kids. Good conversation notes at the back. Copy I had has some formatting glitches so can’t comment on layout but does have some good graphics. Sometimes the language is still a bit mystified but overall an appropriate and useful resource.
I received a ARC of this book from netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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This was an odd little book. I thought the advice in the back for parents was solid, and a great feature, but I found the story very strange. I think it was the fact that we were learning about a girls body because boys noticed she was different kind of skeeved me out. I have questions. Why were they all naked together? Why can’t the book just be written for girls about their bodies? Sure, boys need to know too, but girls are important and not everything needs to include males. The fact that we needed a boy character to start asking questions about a girls body t really bugged me.
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I understand where the publisher was wanting to go with this delicate topic. I appreciate their willingness to tackle a difficult topic. I feel this book falls short. There are better books out there that deal with this topic. It's not a bad book, I just feel there are other books if your resources are precious.
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Thank you NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book for my honest opinion. This book is a good body knowledge book. It clears up the mystery of the cute little words that we all use for private parts. The drawings are clear enough without being overwhelming for audiences of all ages. There were a couple of places I cringed but overall is a good book for elementary aged kids who are asking questions about the difference between boys and girls bodies.
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I liked the idea behind this book but I don't think the execution was great.

The book would be confusing for some young children and the images aren't great.

It is 3 stars from me for this one.
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New concept to let children (girls) learn about their private and one of the most important body part. Must read to kids to help them understand what is called what. So that they grow up knowing themselves and without confusion or embarrassment.
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This book is confusing. And I say that as an adult who knows the names for everything that's "down there".

First of all, if this is supposed to be about using correct terminology, why is the title What's Down There?... and why is the companion book called That's My Willy?

Second, the author does lip service to gender dysphoria, but the book itself is pretty trans-exclusionary. The subtitle alone (A book about girl bodies for curious kids) should be enough of a warning, but things don't get any better on the inside:

"[A vulva and vagina] are both important parts of MY body.
They make Stevie a girl and Big Nan a lady."

Third, the book is confusing. It's told all in rhyme, in the first person. But there's no indication of when other people are talking. Stevie starts out as the narrator... so I was confused by the following line:

"But what's down there? What's its name?
Ours is a penis but yours isn't the same."

This is actually Stevie's cousins talking, but it's not indicated in any way. (As for the first bit I quoted above, I think that was Big Nan talking. But she's confusing things even more by referring to herself in the third person.)

Things get even worse when vaginas are compared to caves, oysters, and treasure chests. Can we please not do that?

The illustrations are... well, I don't even know if they'd be legal in certain jurisdictions. There are naked children, plus lots of pictures of hairy vulvas (oh, and that's another thing; the book implies that vulvas are hairy... but for this target audience, that doesn't make a lot of sense). The illustrations are all black line drawings on what looks like brown paper. They're not very interesting.

Finally, how am I supposed to take the grandfather seriously when his name is PooPops? That kind of makes me want to vomit, actually. (To my North American ears, that sounds like a popsicle made of crap. I wasn't aware that "poo" meant something different in the UK, but maybe it does. I can't think why you'd name a grandpa after feces otherwise.)

Sadly, this just doesn't cut it. While it is important to teach children the correct names for their anatomy, the message gets a bit undermined when you keep using the term "down there". This book is also unsuitable for anyone but cisgender children, so keep that in mind if you want to give it a try.
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