cover of What's happening to mePeter Mayle book

What’s happening to me? by Peter Mayle: Book Review

Book Review:  A vinatge book about puberty that is still quite popular.

Book Review

What's happening to me? A guide to puberty is written by Peter Mayle who also wrote the  classic book that many parents would remember from their own childhood, Where did I come from?

This book was first published in 1975 - over 30 years ago. Despite it's age and the fact that it hasn't been updated, it is still one of the top selling books on puberty.

It is a really nice book which provides an introduction or guide to puberty and is written in a very casual, honest, sympathetic and humorous style.

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​​What's happening to me? starts off with the fact that everybody goes through puberty but nobody likes to talk about it. It says that the book is there to answer all of their questions about puberty, because a school teacher just doesn't have the time to answer everybody's questions. Now, you have to remember that this book was written in the '70s, when sex ed used to be seen as a school responsibility. It then talks about the fact that everyone goes through puberty,  so you're not alone.

So why do we go through puberty? It's quite simple, it's all about reproducing. Everyone reproduces, from fleas to flowers to elephants.  Your body needs to wait until it is ready. It jokes about you being a grandparent at the age of twelve, imagine if you could have a baby at the age of five. It talks about the fact that your body waits until your body's big enough to really start having babies. Is puberty catching? Well no, it's something that happens to all of us. So the fact that we go through puberty is normalised and some basic information is given as to why it all happens.

What's happening to me? then looks at the changes that happen to the different genders. It talks about what happens with girls, so it has a  guide through from eight to ten, eleven to twelve, right up to seventeen and eighteen and has some little black and white drawings there. Then it has the boy's guide, so it talks about what actually happens, how it happens and with more pictures.

It then explains that it can be a little bit embarrassing going through all this stuff. Then it talks about hormones, what they are and how they work and why they work and then the world's most embarrassing questions. It talks about the fact that puberty happens to children all over the world.

The book then looks at providing detailed information about all of the individual changes, answering questions like:

  • What's an erection?
  • Why is my chest getting bumpy?
  • What's a period?
  • Why is my voice acting so funny?
  • Why do I get pimples?
  • What's masturbation?
  • Why am I getting hairy?
  • Why is mine not like his?
  • What's a wet dream?

It talks about breasts, why is my chest getting bumpy? A little bit more about breasts. It talks about erections in boys and about how it's embarrassing, and why it happens.

Periods for girls. Your first period is not a sign that you're becoming a woman.Why is your voice acting so funny. Why do you get pimples, so everyone gets them, what can you do about it.

It talks about masturbation as well. Often when we think of masturbation, we tend to think of boys, but it does talk about girl masturbation as well as orgasm. As kids get older and the sex hormones of puberty start to kick in, they will start to experience sexual feelings. Which is why some will masturbate. They will masturbate because they feel  sexual desire (or horniness).

What's happening to me? also talks about what wet dreams are. Boys need to know about this stuff and about the fact that they're now able to ejaculate. It then talks about differences in regards to penis sizes, and that at the end of the day, that sizes really don't matter. The one thing that I've learned after my many years in sexual health is that you'll have some guys come in with a really large not erect penis, but when it's actually erect it's pretty much a similar size. Then you can have some guys who come in with the tiniest little flaccid penis but when it's erect, it's pretty much almost the same size as that big long one that came in, so when they're erect, they're all pretty much the same.

It's just that when boys are young and are standing in a locker room and one of their mates has got a big long penis and they've only got a little one, they tend to think that there's something wrong with them. They forget that, or they don't know that, when they're erect penises are all very similar in size.

What's happening to me? A guide to puberty  by Peter Mayle is a lovely little book that explains puberty in a lovely casual style. But it does just focus on the physical changes whereas modern books  also look at the emotional and pyschological changes, which are equally as important.

Ideal ages

What's happening to me? is ideal for children between the ages of 10 - 13 years of age.

Buy a copy

You can buy a copy of What's happening to me? by Peter Mayle  from Amazon or  Book Depository.

You can find more books like this in my extensive list of Sex Education Books for Children.

Video book review


My mission is to create resources that will help you to naturally talk to your kids about sex, all while respecting your personal values.

Which means that inside this website, you'll find lots of resources to help you with talking to your child about love, sex, relationships and growing up.

My Sex Education 101 page includes all of the information on sex education. You'll find lots of different blogposts to help with getting started, on a wide range of different topics.

My Puberty 101 page includes all of the information on puberty. You'll find lots of different blogposts to help with talking to your child about growing up.

You'll find videos about sex ed in my Sex Education Videos resource page that you can watch with your child or to learn more about sex education yourself.

You’ll also find an extensive range of sex education books for children, for kids of all ages. There's even some books in there for parents! 

If you're looking for some ideas on how to talk to your child about bodies, How to Talk to Kids About Bodies, will help you to start naming the private body parts and to have shame-free conversations with them about bodies. It is filled with lots of different ideas on how to have natural converasations with your child about their body. 

You'll also find some child friendly anatomically-correct cartoon illustrations of the genitals and internal reproductive organs that are appropriate for children from the age of 3 and up. Let's Look at Different Body Parts is a printable that will help take the awkward out of talking to your child about their body, so they grow up feeling educated, confident, and comfortable in their own skin.

If you're worried that talking to your child about bodies might lead to questions about sex, then you can relax. How to Talk to Kids About Sex, will help you to explain sexual intercourse to your child in a way they will understand. It breaks sex down into simple steps that  take the stress out of explaining!

If you want a printed book to hold in your hands, then the  The Sex Education Answer Book will give you age-specific answers to the most common questions kid's ask parents about sex. Which means you don't need to worry about finding a child-friendly explanation that your child understands. 

If you want the answers to questions about a lot more than just sex, then Sex Ed Quickies is your best option. It has answers to 300+ questions  that kids commonly ask parents,  including how babies are made, sexual intercourse, body parts, puberty, relationships, pregnancy, birth, masturbation, sexual diversity, gender, pornography, STIs, contraception and much more.

About the Author Cath Hakanson

I'm Cath, a sex educator living in Australia with my husband and 2 kids. I help parents to talk about sex (with less cringe and more confidence) and empower their child to make smart sexual decisions. To find a better way to talk about sex, you can join my community of parents and visit my shop for helpful resources.

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