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The Little Black Book for Girlz: A Book on Healthy Sexuality.

The Little Black Book

for Girlz: A Book on Healthy


by St. Stephen's Community House

978-55037-954-9 (pb) $9.95

Annick Press, 2006

for Grades 9 and up


The Little Black Book

for Guys: Guys Talk about Sex

by St. Stephen's Community House

978-1-55037-962-4 (pb) $9.95

Annick Press, 2008

for Grades 9 and up


Solid info with a saucy attitude struts through the pages of two fantastic books about human sexuality for teens: The Little Black Book for Girlz and The Little Black Book for Guys. The by-line, "For youth by youth," entices young adults to slip inside the seductive black covers where their peers offer a teen-friendly read that features vital, up-to-date information about healthy relationships, their bodies and sexuality. The girls' "Down and Dirty" discussion group at the Youth Arcade of St. Stephen's Community House birthed the first book in 2006. It was followed this year by the lads' straight-talking title written at the same downtown Toronto social service agency.

Health professionals have vetted the information presented by the authors the how-to facts about topics such as masturbation, lubrication, condoms and, as the Guys book puts it, "arts and craft" tips on fabricating a homemade dental dam for safe female oral sex. Those who are less than savvy about today's love lingo will appreciate the Glossary's 'translation' of terms. Also, importantly, each chapter has its own section in the Resource pages pointing towards more information.

The style, messages and format are similar for both books. The nine delightful chapters in the female Black Book give generous attention to sexual assault, miscarriage and abortion, while the five chapters in the boys' compilation chat more about their specific interests, such as, the workings of the penis. The two books strongly support condom use for the prevention of STIs (sexually transmitted infections) and recommend solo sex as a way of completely avoiding STIs and pregnancy.

In both books, each chapter conveys its frank messages in five to six brief pieces written collectively by "The Group" or by individual contributors. A touching personal essay, with perhaps an unexpected point-of-view, comes from a young father in Guys. "It may sound corny," Anonymous confesses, "but it is the best feeling in the world, being a dad. He's my little man, and I love him." In some areas, writers expand their perspectives by interviewing expert health workers or people with first-hand experience. Chi Nyugen crafted a fresh expose in Girlz after conversing with Jasmine, an amazing HIV positive 17-year-old working on dispelling myths through education.

The sassy and satisfying text, images and poetry accomplish St. Stephen's declared mandate of challenging assumptions. In Guys, Jordan Cleveland's poem "Trapped" compassionately considers the feelings of a girl "trapped in the cage of flesh" of a boy. "Garage," a series of comic-strip pages in Guys, has a surprise in-the-sack-ending that will knock straight and gay readers' socks off. It was impossible to discern the tiny-print name of the talented 'strip artist. It was easier in Girlz to credit artists such as Emily T., the creator of a crazy-funny cartoon about a "Dispenser" fairy that unexpectedly pops up with solutions for menstruating young women.

I feel strongly that youth are entitled to the potentially life-saving and other material related to their bodies in these important books. You might share this review with your school and public libraries. And consider buying two copies of the book: one for the young adult in your life and a second so you can shadow read and increase your knowledge of the choices and challenges before teens in the world of intimacy today.

Lian Goodall has been reviewing children's books for more than 20 years, a career begun, in part, because she was a teenaged mother.
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Author:Goodall, Lian
Publication:Canadian Children's Book News
Article Type:Book review
Date:Jan 1, 2009
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