Joining a growing circle of celebratory and educational picture books about the human body (including Tyler Feder’s exemplary Bodies Are Cool) is Nancy Vo’s Boobies. Vo, whom many might recognize as the author-illustrator of The Outlaw and The Ranger, presents readers with a truly delightful read. As informational as it is witty and bright, Boobies offers conversational narration that leads readers through a variety of facts and figures about mammalian and human breasts while also explaining what types of animals do not have breasts.
Of particular note in Boobies is Vo’s standout artwork, which manages to walk a perfect line between vibrantly fun and educational. Stencil artwork, made with matte acrylics and pen on paper, is eye-catching and distinctive. From its opening pages (which feature what appears to be a pair of breasts that become/are actually the large eyes of a fish) to a concise historical timeline of stone and wood carvings to a busy, colourful spread about how breasts can vary and change (including with scars from a mastectomy), Boobies has visual appeal.
While the repeated use of the word “boobies” might not be to everyone’s preferred taste when talking about anatomy, the word fits with how the book begins. The word choice not only matches the book’s splendid cover of a wide-eyed blue-footed booby but also continues with a pictorial explanation that booby birds are actually avian, not mammalian, and therefore do not have boobies! There is a bit of a subject jump from the animal facts about breasts that make up much of the book to the brief ones related to geography toward the book’s end. Even with that slight leap, however, the easy, conversational tone and clever artwork carry on and conclude with a positive celebration of boobies.
The ending of Boobies leaves readers with a cheeky hint that there may be more to come in a potential series. For educators, caregivers, and children of various ages, Boobies offers an initial exploration of breasts and will prompt further discussion for curious readers.