Publishers WeeklyFour paperback titles kick off the Sunscreen series of self-help books aimed at teens. Just Us Girls by Moka, with Melissa Daly, illus. by Eric Heliot, divided into "phases" (sections) tackle subjects such as girls' changing bodies, self-awareness and relating to others-plus lighter fare such as "experimenting with makeup." Sex Explained by Magali Clausener-Petit, with Daly, illus. by Soledad, navigates the body's changes (for boys and girls) during puberty, as well as such topics as intercourse, contraception and sexual crimes (e.g., rape and incest), offering advice on how not to become a victim. My Parents Are Getting Divorced by Florence Cadier, with Daly, illus. by Claire Gandini, can help kids caught in the middle, providing reassurance and advice: "Just listening to their fighting is hard enough; you shouldn't have to referee." Finally, Feeling Freakish? by V ronique le Jeune and Philippe Eliakim, with Daly, illus. by Princess H, tackles self-esteem issues and ends with quotes from real kids. Cartoons mix a comic touch with compassion: a girl confesses to a boy, "I can't go out with you because my ears stick out... I'm sure you understand." Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Just Us Girls: Secrets to Feeling Good about Yourself, Inside and Outby Melissa Daly, Moka, Eric Heliot (Illustrator)
VOYAA girl-power book that has put a lot into looking attractive and up-to-date ends up being shallow and soon out-of-date. Short sections attend briefly to many of the things that eleven- to fourteen-year-olds think about: bodies, boys, friends and family, personality, and self-image. The relaxed and breezy tone of the text and design only skim the surface of these issues: No important body parts are shown, and the word sex never even appears in the index. (The author tries hard to avoid the word "vagina," although on one page she cannot seem to find any way around it. The word does not show up in the index.) Cutesy lines to appeal to contemporary girls will soon be or might already be out of date: "Hats are big right now" or "wear cute underwear with funky designs-you'll be the only one who knows." Who has not seen girls' underwear showing on purpose? The text presupposes upper-middle class readers, who might pick up boys "at the ski resort" or persuade their parents to let them go on a class trip or year abroad with no concern for money. The intended audience for this book is also not, apparently, African American, although the illustrations feature young women of ambiguous ethnicities. The sections on hair and makeup refer to only certain hair and skin types. This book is the sort that some parents might wish their twelve-year-old would read: upbeat and with no "scary" details. But beyond its flashy design and positive message it offers a bland naïvete that no parent would wish on their child. VOYA CODES: 2Q 3P M (Better editing or work by the author might have warranted a 3Q; Will appeal with pushing; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8). 2004, Amulet Books/Harry N. Abrams, 112p.,Trade pb. Ages 11 to 14.
School Library JournalGr 5-8-Through hip graphics, colors, and fonts, these books offer advice, but the quality varies from title to title. Divorced is a great, upbeat book, giving wise advice in a voice that speaks to kids. The table of contents is divided into three logical sections, which cover before, during, and after divorce. The illustrations are right on target, such as a dog and a cat fighting on the cover or a kid balancing on a tightrope between two houses. Unfortunately, all but one of the titles in the bibliography are in French. Girls covers such topics as the body, personality types, feelings, and relationships in short, graphically appealing chapters. However, the chapter on exercise talks about sampling the equipment in a health club without mentioning that children under a certain age may not be permitted to work out on machines. The biggest problem, though, is with the cartoon illustrations. In the section on kids not wanting to spend time with their parents, the illustration shows a girl asking to watch TV with her father. With the discussion of glasses, a girl is shown wearing them on her chest like a bra, nipples where eyes would be. Finally, the bibliography includes only one book, the old edition of the Boston Women's Health Collective's Our Bodies, Ourselves (S & S, 1985), making no mention of the many good books that cover similar ground for middle schoolers.-Laurie von Mehren, Cuyahoga County Public Library, Brecksville, OH Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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