Or maybe it’s just the Young Adults in New Zealand, as recounted in Ted Dawe’s new book, Into the River, which was just named children’s book of the year by the New Zealand Post. The selection of the novel has caused a bit of a controversy, due to the explicit sexual content of the children’s book.
Yes, that’s right. I said explicit sexual content in a children’s book.
To be fair, the book is targeted to an audience 13 and older, but I’m 32 (and a half, my kids feel the need to add) and I had to be revived by smelling salts when I read the passages, which were too racy for the New Zealand Herald to excerpt in their review.
The book uses expletives including the c-word, depicts drug use and sex scenes, including one where a baby mimics sounds of intercourse. The Herald on Sunday has decided not to print extracts as they would offend some readers.
In an effort to get more page views for their website In the interest of journalistic integrity, the newspaper did link to the offending passages in the story, “Award-winning kids’ book drops c-bomb”, on their website, so you can satisfy your prurient interest make up your mind about the literary value of the writing by following this link.
I’m not averse to the topic of sex in books intended for children to read (as long as it is age appropriate, and I think it probably is in Dawe’s book, although I have not read it, except for the dirty bits) and I think that books can serve as terrific (and emotionally neutral) starting points for parents to use in discussions about sex with our kids. It’s got to be a lot easier to talk about the choices Ted Dawe’s protagonist makes in Into The River than it will be to talk about the choices a real life son has made when he announces his real life girlfriend is real life pregnant.
Not that I need a book to get sex discussions going. I am one of those women who’s always bringing up the topic of sex, menstruation and/or childbirth, to the discomfort of my dinner guests and the elderly man who got stuck standing next to me in line at Dunkin Donuts last Tuesday.
I’ve written before about the sexual education I got from my mother in the post, Sex Really is Disgusting After All, Just Like Your Mother Told You, and I vowed, as I gave birth to one daughter, and then another, that my kids would not grow up feeling shameful and embarrassed about sex, and I hope to greet every question from them about sex with good humor, understanding and acceptance.
See, in my mind, I am Super Mom. In reality, my attempts at educating my children has my oldest explaining to her little sister that sanitary napkins are “Mommy’s diapers” despite the diagrams I white boarded for her explaining the menstrual cycle and then brainstorming together the pros and cons of wearing sanitary napkins vs. tampons.
“They are not my ‘diapers,'” I correct, removing the sanitary napkins from the bathroom walls where the toddler has stuck them.
“I didn’t say they were diapers. I said they were like diapers. A simile!” Since we have been working on figures of speech over the summer, she’s now hoping to appeal to the English lit nerd that she knows I am.
“They’re not even like diapers. You’re going to have her thinking that I’m incontinent.”
“Incontinent!” She repeats, and then as she’s walking away, I can hear her saying, “Africa, Antartica, Asia, Australia, Europe . . .”
We’ve been working on Geography, too.
You can read more about New Zealand (yes, I’ve actually written about this small Pacific island before!) in the post, U Can’t Has Kittehs in New Zealand.
The image in this post is from Wikimedia Commons, a freely licensed media file repository.