With refreshing directness and good humor, this handbook to puberty covers social and emotional as well as physical changes.
Reminding her readers that puberty is a gradual process, Vermond talks to them honestly about what to expect during these growing-up years. She encourages them to recognize and accept people’s differences, including their own. Bodily changes, self-esteem issues, emotional ups and downs, feelings and the mixed messages society sends are all addressed—even before she turns to crushes, gender identity and sexual orientation, and the process of moving from crush to relationship to love and sex. She doesn’t avoid difficult topics: bullying, depression, violence, pornography. The sex talk is explicit, but no diagrams are involved. Illustrations are limited to cartoon-style chapter openings; the last one shows a partially undressed couple looking at a condom package. There are sidebars, quotations from experts and questions for readers to ask themselves. Plenty of subheadings break up the text and encourage exploration of specific topics. The lively design is attractive but not overpowering. The text addresses both boys and girls, though a few pages speak directly to one sex or the other. The backmatter suggests a wide range of Web resources for further information and includes an extensive bibliography.
This engaging presentation of solid and important information deserves a wide audience. (Nonfiction. 9-15)