Mary Breasted (review date 23 September 1973)
SOURCE: "Nothing but the Facts—of Life," in The New York Times Book Review, September 23, 1973, p. 8.
[In the following excerpt, Breasted offers a largely negative assessment of Where Did I Come From?]
[Where Did I Come From? The Facts of Life without Any Nonsense and with Illustrations] is, as a matter of fact, sprinkled with giggly phrases and sentences and illustrated by such risible pictures that, all told, one has to say it did not leave out the nonsense. It does explain both anatomy and sexual intercourse more expansively [than other such books for children]. But it is filled with little parenthetical asides that seem to destroy the whole point of the book, the explanation of sex and reproduction without awkwardness or embarrassment. When explaining anatomy, the book tells us our parents "are not made at all the same way. You've probably noticed that already, but you notice it much more when you put them in the bath together," instead of just saying: You can see the difference when they are naked.
In explaining the function of women's breasts, the book says: "Well, the milk that kept you alive for those first few months either came from a bottle or your mother's breasts. So it's a quick thank you to breasts before we move on."
And feminists may not like this book …, because when it finally reaches the explanation of intercourse, it tells us, "The man wants to get as close to the woman as he can, because he's feeling very loving to her." There's no mention of how she's feeling toward him.
But this book [does attempt] to explain orgasm, and women are not left out of the passage where the attempt is made. The sensation is described as "a tremendous big lovely shiver for both of them," both the man and the woman.
Somewhat ludicrous, however, is the picture opposite this page of text (which also compares orgasm to a sneeze), showing an infant sneezing and captioned: "It's a lovely feeling."
[This book] will probably get across so many small misconceptions to literally minded children that parents who buy [it] will end up having to answer questions or correct misunderstandings.