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“Where Did I Come From?” (1973)

“Where Did I Come From?”

by Peter Mayle, illustrated by Arthur Robins

We had covered the respiratory system and the digestive system. Finally it was time for the reproductive system. Dr Bedeham, our biology teacher, took us through asexual reproduction, then frogs, rabbits and finally human reproduction. The textbook was dry and factual and Dr Bedeham simply added that it was something that happened when two people were married and wanted to have babies. That was my formal sex education at age 14. Informally, I perused a copy of The Joy of Sex that the people I babysat for had on their shelves.

“Where Did I Come From?” is intended for much younger children than that, though I honestly couldn’t imagine my mother giving me this book, let alone reading it with me. But for those “red-faced parents” (like this one) sensible enough to want to talk to their curious children about sex at an early age, this is a good opening gambit. Sure it is a little male-focused and perhaps the description of an orgasm (though never named) as a sneeze is a little off the mark, but its jolly matter-of-factness and exuberant, rotund cartoon characters give much more of an idea about why sex is so darn interesting than a biology textbook ever could.

I thought about how this book would do down with my kids. I would undoubtedly get a withering eyeroll from my tween daughter and I suspect my son would discard it in favor of baseball. Personally, I feel a little more comfortable with less jovial books: It’s So Amazing manages to be both informative and reassuring without getting into the intimate details of the ‘”special kind of wriggling” involved.

One final note: “Where Did I Come From? was written by Peter Mayle, who later went on to greater fame as the author of A Year in Provence. Who knew?

– Hayley

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