At thirteen, I was the second last girl in our group to get ‘IT’. If this was a race, it seemed I was destined to languish at the loser’s end. If having your period signified maturity, was I to remain a child forever? Worse still, was there something fundamentally wrong with me?

I was interstate when my daughter first got her period. The texts were never ending. Despite having discussed menstruation with her, the reality was as emotional as it was physical. I’d abandoned her during this deep, dark, mysterious rite of passage and she had to fess up about bodily functions to a babysitter.

As over fifty percent of girls these days get their first period younger than thirteen and starting at nine is not entirely unusual, it’s imperative that we assist kids in demystifying periods. Culturally, it does seem we are learning to attach less shame to periods, but there’s still a way to go. We need to be open and honest and remove stigma from a completely normal process.

The only novel from my adolescence I can recall that openly discussed menstruation was Are you there, God? It’s me, Margaret by Judy Blume.

I wrote The Last One in the Universe partly as a homage to Judy Blume; updated for modern audiences but still entirely frank about an experience that affects half the population.

In children’s fiction, readers generally ‘read up’, looking to characters a year or two older than they are so as to vicariously experience their future. So, this book (as well as others in the Girl V the World series) is aimed at readers from 8 up. Kids are crying out for knowledge in this area.

So, let’s talk about ‘IT’. Let’s talk about emotions, cramps, tampons, pads, leakage, what the blood looks like, how it feels, how symptoms can vary from person to person.

Let’s talk about PERIODS – Period.

By Chrissie Perry (who also writes as Chrissie Keighery). Chrissie is the author of thirty-five books for children and young adults, including the popular Go Girl series which has sold over 3 million copies. The Last One in the Universe, a Hardie Grant Egmont book, is refreshingly honest and deliciously heartwarming, perfect for readers aged 8 to 13.