A matter-of-fact mirror that reflects reality and respect, not bewildered embarrassment.



Body hair, biology, and boyhood are dissected and demystified in this guide to pubescence.

As the XY follow-up to her XX exposé into what makes a preteen body tick, neuroscientist and actress Bialik (Girling Up, 2017, etc.) lends her scientific and maternal expertise to anyone fumbling through the boy-to–young man process. Replacing mystery and misunderstanding with science (proteins, chemicals, and hormones, oh my) the book scrutinizes the human body’s pubescent evolution. This is a pragmatic and relatable tool for understanding how, why, and what you’re chemically wired for, from hair growth to attention span, and it’s careful to note that generalizations are guides not rules. In other words, there’s no “right” time for the P word to kick in. What’s happening to girls (breasts, ovaries, height) on the puberty periphery is also discussed, as is gender identity. (Of note: a global map of countries recognizing more than two genders.) Merging research with experience raising two young boys, the result avoids a myopic point of view by peppering pages with lighthearted line drawings and sidebars with firsthand accounts from anonymous men. Bialik assures readers that we all figure out this hormonal playground called our body: In other words, when it comes to puberty, you’ve got this. Knowing where to sit at lunch when you get to high school? That’s another book entirely.

A matter-of-fact mirror that reflects reality and respect, not bewildered embarrassment. (Nonfiction. 9-15)

Pub Date: May 8, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-51597-5

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

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Necessary for every library, personal or otherwise.


As fresh and funny as ever, a classic compendium of physics in action gets a light but needed makeover.

Most of the “Things” here are still working the way they did back in 1988, 1998, and 2004, when the original and the revised editions dropped—but along with sporting new and spruced-up colors, some of the content, notably the section dubbed “The Digital Domain,” has been brought into the 21st century. Thus, the space shuttle and the VCR are no more, the workings of the telephone have been replaced by those of smartphones and telephone networks, and the jump jet has given way to the quadcopter and other types of drones. But the details that made the earlier editions delightful as well as edifying remain. In the illustrations, flights of tiny angels move the “first whoopee cushion” into place, discombobulated woolly mammoths get caught up in silly side business while helping to demonstrate scientific principles, and best of all, Macaulay’s brilliantly designed, engagingly informal diagrams and cutaways bring within the grasp of even casual viewers a greater understanding of the technological wonders of both past and present.

Necessary for every library, personal or otherwise. (index) (Reference. 11-15)

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-82438-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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Sympathetic in tone, optimistic in outlook, not heavily earnest: nothing to be afraid of.



Part browsing item, part therapy for the afflicted, this catalog of irrational terrors offers a little help along with a lot of pop psychology and culture.

The book opens with a clinical psychologist’s foreword and closes with a chapter of personal and professional coping strategies. In between, Latta’s alphabetically arranged encyclopedia introduces a range of panic-inducers from buttons (“koumpounophobia”) and being out of cellphone contact (“nomophobia”) to more widespread fears of heights (“acrophobia”), clowns (“coulroiphobia”) and various animals. There’s also the generalized “social anxiety disorder”—which has no medical name but is “just its own bad self.” As most phobias have obscure origins (generally in childhood), similar physical symptoms and the same approaches to treatment, the descriptive passages tend toward monotony. To counter that, the author chucks in references aplenty to celebrity sufferers, annotated lists of relevant books and (mostly horror) movies, side notes on “joke phobias” and other topics. At each entry’s end, she contributes a box of “Scare Quotes” such as a passage from Coraline for the aforementioned fear of buttons.

Sympathetic in tone, optimistic in outlook, not heavily earnest: nothing to be afraid of. (end notes, resource list) (Nonfiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-936976-49-2

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Zest Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2013

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