THE PERIOD BOOK

Give this straightforward treatment of menstruation a warm welcome. Written by the co-author of Where Are My Birth Parents?, (1993) and her 15-year-old niece, it has a reassuring, matter-of- fact tone lightened throughout by Palen's humorous but appropriate line drawings. Following a brief description of puberty, menstruation is frankly discussed; most helpful is a whole chapter on ``What to Wear?''; another chapter negotiates genuinely embarrassing situations that every female has envisioned, if not experienced. Readers will also find information on uneven breast development, gynecologists, pimples, and more. The book is aimed at readers who are premenstrual or newly menstrual; teenagers seeking detailed information on sexual activity, birth control, or sexually transmitted diseases will have to look elsewhere. However, there is an excellent final chapter that emphasizes continuing communication with parents and suggests readers save sex for ``someone special.'' Four blank pages ``just for you'' should not preclude library purchase. A worthy companion to the more overtly feminist Period (1991) and a fine complement to the inclusive It's Perfectly Normal (1994). (index, not seen) (Nonfiction. 9-14)

Pub Date: March 20, 1996

ISBN: 0-8027-8420-8

Page Count: 115

Publisher: Walker

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1996

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THE GRADUATION OF JAKE MOON

Jake Moon’s grandfather Skelly used to be the emotional fixer in Jake’s household, the one who soothed his hurts and helped him through hard times. But when Jake is in third grade, Skelly begins forgetting things and by the time Jake is ready to graduate from eighth grade Skelly’s Alzheimer’s has progressed to the point where he is barely aware of his surroundings. Jake learns from Skelly’s doctor that Alzheimer’s disease has three stages, “each . . . worse than the one before it,” which Jake thinks of as “(1) sad, (2) sadder, and (3) the saddest thing you’ve ever seen.” The book chronicles not only Skelly’s deterioration, but also the effect it has on Jake and his relationships with other family members and friends. As Skelly’s condition worsens, their roles reverse and Jake finds himself caring for the man who once cared for him. That, coupled with the fact that his grandfather has become a tremendous embarrassment—at a sleepover, Skelly shows up in Jake’s room without any pants or underpants, for example—causes Jake to disengage from friends and extracurricular activities. Park’s convincing first-person narration rings true, and she is particularly adept at rendering Jake’s complex emotional journey, which encompasses love, confusion, sadness, anger, embarrassment, shame, and finally acceptance. The book has some funny moments, but it’s one of Park’s darker, more poignant creations; readers expecting a Skinnybones–type laugh-a-thon will be sadly disappointed. Nonetheless, Park has produced a perceptive book that should prove useful to children who must navigate similar waters. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-689-83912-X

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2000

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A poignant and achingly beautiful narrative shedding light on the price of a violent sport.

BEFORE THE EVER AFTER

An African American preteen finds his world upended when his father, a retired professional football player, displays symptoms of traumatic brain injury.

Twelve-year-old Zachariah “ZJ” Johnson Jr. loves his dad but wonders who he would be if his dad was not a famous athlete. Although his dad is in the spotlight, he is full of love and attention for ZJ and his friends. And fortunately, ZJ has three friends who see him and not his father’s shadow. “Zachariah 44” was a fearless player who suffered many concussions during his playing career. The changes in his father begin slowly and intermittently. Soon the headaches and memory lapses grow increasingly frequent and scary for ZJ and his mom, since the doctors do not seem to have any answers. As his dad slips further away, ZJ’s memories of better times grow closer than ever. Using spare and lyrical language for ZJ’s present-tense narration, which moves back and forth through time, Woodson skillfully portrays the confusion, fear, and sadness when a family member suffers from brain injury and the personality changes it brings. Readers see Zachariah Sr. through ZJ’s eyes and agonize with him as the strong, vibrant athlete begins to fade. The well-rounded secondary characters complete a mosaic of a loving African American family and their community of friends. The tale is set in the early 2000s, as awareness of chronic traumatic encephalopathy and its catastrophic consequences was beginning to emerge.

A poignant and achingly beautiful narrative shedding light on the price of a violent sport. (author's note) (Historical fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-399-54543-6

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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