The Barnes & Noble Review
A good dose of sugar for the soul is something we all need occasionally, and who better to supply it than fellow life-learners who've garnered their smarts through experience. In a collection of 55 enriching stories, Chocolate for a Teen's Spirit provides "hope, strength and wisdom" to young women looking for a bit of inspirational "chocolate."
Divided into eight sections, this affirmative volume sheds insight into themes on life, such as "Discovering Life's Treasures," "Teen Mischief," and "Proud Mamas," with stories ranging from the surprising to triumphant. Included among the gems are Laurie Nuck's story about a car salesman who gets his comeuppance, "How Slick Stan Learned Probability"; Judith Bader Jones's "Plastic Curtains," relating a girl's struggle with her mom's new boyfriend; and Sheila Stephens's poem "Spirit Petals."
Young women looking for a spirit-stirring pick-me-up will find it here. From these truthful and poignant stories, they'll be motivated to look at themselves more closely and share their own wisdom with friends and family. Teachers and parents will also find this book a useful springboard for discussions on life choices and emotional well-being. An enlightening choice for birthdays, book clubs, or someone who's down, Allenbaugh's collection is one sweet read.
Brief pieces on a wide range of subjects make this latest installment of the Chocolate series a good choice for classroom read-alouds or for reluctant readers. Allenbaugh includes a variety of essays with authors ranging from adult women looking back on life-changing experiences to teens reflecting on more immediate situations. The stories clearly are aimed at young women, indicated by both the subtitle and the subject matter. In the various thematic sections are stories of first love, first loss of a grandparent, experiences with beauty pageants, starting college, finding mentors, and other topics of interest to teen girls as they navigate their way into adult life. Several essays feature overcoming difficult circumstances, such as handicaps, and a few recall growing up in Nazi Germany. The book is a fair mix of light and serious pieces. Teens looking for quick inspiration should find it here. Chocolate for a Teen's Soul is part of a five-book series; more are planned for the future. Teens who enjoy the Chicken Soup books should also like this volume. This book is recommended primarily for young women age twelve through eighteen and would be a worthwhile addition to a school or public library as well as classroom collections. VOYA CODES: 4Q 4P M J S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2000, Simon & Schuster, 243pp, Trade pb. Ages 12 to 18. Reviewer: Dana Vance SOURCE: VOYA, April 2001 (Vol. 24, No.1)
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up-A collection of very short stories by a wide range of female contributors. All of the selections are light; they do not deal with any controversial or gritty subjects. The entries in the "Teen Mischief" section, for example, include a tale about a girl's first experience showing her stubborn pig, another about a young woman's introduction to shaving her legs, and one about a teen convincing her mother to join her on an amusement-park ride. The authors come from diverse backgrounds, from a Broadway producer to a 13-year-old first-time writer; they are professional women, mothers, daughters, teachers, and students. The variety of voices adds an interesting texture to this confection. Will these stories warm a teen's heart and bring her hope, strength, and wisdom? Perhaps, but they offer frothy, sugary fillings instead of something rich and nourishing to sink one's teeth into. After a main course of M. Jerry Weiss and Helen Weiss's Lost & Found: Award-Winning Authors Sharing Real-Life Experiences through Fiction (Forge, 2000) or Lorrie Moore's I Know Some Things: Stories about Childhood by Contemporary Writers (Faber & Faber, 2000) or even a serving of "Chicken Soup" (Health Communications), if there is still a craving for more inspiration, a little chocolate won't hurt.-Laura Reed, Pickering Public Library, Ontario, Canada Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Read an Excerpt
Rich stories, like chocolate, not only make you feel good, they can also serve as comfort through confusing times. Many of the stories in Chocolate for a Teen's Soul are written by young women themselves. You will be amazed at the ability of these writers to tell it like it is about everything from personal triumphs, conflicts, and challenges to most embarrassing moments. Some have had to "draw a line in the sand" as they discovered their own boundaries, while others tell of first loves that were never meant to last. These true stories will help you not only survive, but flourish, as you discover what these young women from the teen years to early twenties have learned -- often the hard way -- about what it means to be growing wise and growing strong.
As I began this latest volume of Chocolate stories, I must admit that at first I felt intimidated, because while I'm young in spirit, my chronological years are showing up in many ways! My desire was to find your collective heartbeat and gather stories that talk about the things that matter most to you. I'm pleased to say that the assortment of stories offered in Chocolate for a Teen's Soul are as varied -- ranging from poignant to playful -- yet connected as each of you are to one another, no matter how old you may be.
Every young woman needs a mentor -- someone older whom they can think of as having it all together. Many powerful stories in this book are written for young women by young women themselves, and they are also written by women who will serve as mentors as they look back on their own unforgettable moments with an "if I'd known then what I know now" kind of spirit.
Today, more than ever before, you have the opportunity to be high-tech and wildly creative, and to reinvent your world as you go -- but now and then you may find yourself longing for things to be more simple. With so many forces at play, it's no surprise that you may feel grateful for all the opportunities available to you and overwhelmed at the same time. In no other time in your life will you have the youthfulness to climb mountains, the fresh eyes to see the world anew, the passion for first loves, or more desire to be fiercely independent and unique. And with all these opportunities come challenge.
So grab some chocolate and sit with a friend, your older sister, your mom, your mentor, or by yourself and read the stories that are calling to you. May these stories make you laugh and cry, may they provide humor to something you might be taking too seriously, or may they be your companion as you seek answers to your own hurdles. In Chocolate for a Teen's Soul, triumph always reigns -- and that's the best kind of inspiration of all!
Copyright © 2000 by Kay Allenbaugh