This slender volume, effectively translated from French, lightly covers the skill of assertiveness, including when to deploy it and when to tone it down.
Many young teens encounter situations when they need to find a way to say no to friends, classmates, adults or perhaps even well-meaning parents. Using brief scenarios and extremely quirky and appealing cartoon-strip illustrations, this effort explores in some depth a variety of pertinent dilemmas, but its advice is only superficial. For example, the author envisions a situation in which a girl is heavily pressured by a controlling friend and then describes at length the psychodynamics that cause her to accept uncomplainingly the friend’s unpleasant behavior. Unfortunately, the section concludes without ever offering specifics to resolve the problem. A chapter on bullying also comes up short. After explaining what might motivate bullies, the advice is, “Learn how to defend your rights and calmly stand up for yourself." Sometimes the illustrations don’t do much to expand on the text; other times, they are placed out of sync with it, which is confusing. Many of the pages’ backgrounds are divided either vertically or horizontally into two contrasting background colors; the vertically divided pages can be visually distracting, particularly when the background color is too dark for effective contrast.
While this well-intentioned effort may appeal to some readers and does provide helpful insight into some challenging situations, it alone will not solve many problems. (Nonfiction. 10-15)