A sweet, if occasionally hackneyed, book of advice for young girls.


A mother’s collection of bromides to her young daughter that centers on healthy emotional growth.

This life guide and memoir from Herman (Stories We Tell Ourselves, 2013, etc.) aims a set of life-rules at 7- to 11-year-old girls, along with stories that show these values in action. The author originally wrote the guide at the request of her then-8-year-old daughter, Grace, who wanted a book of advice like the ones that Marmee gives the March girls in Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel Little Women. Years later, Herman’s daughter rediscovered the guide, which served as the basis of this book. Initially, the platitudes about growing up and doing the right thing veer the book into vague, self-help territory. Its overstatement of the universality of the golden rule, for example, almost feels like a lecture. Herman’s advice becomes more nuanced as the chapters progress, beginning with a section that distills the golden rule’s fundamental requirement: empathy. A later section illustrates the importance of expressing all types of feelings, even if they aren’t positive ones. Herman allows room for girls to experience a range of emotions, rather than confining them to “good and happy” feelings. In other chapters, the author depicts situations that girls may find tough to navigate, using honest phrasing that shows compassion and restraint (“If people are angry with you…for saying “no” to something that’s bad for you, then these are people you will not enjoy having in your life”). She pairs the tidbits of advice with black-and-white illustrations, drawn by her husband, which show women of all ages at work, play and home, in both solitude and sisterhood. The book closes with some prescient tips on finding love, aimed at girls who are likely still in the awkward, crush phase of adolescence, yet on the cusp of dating. It provides young women with an adult perspective, even if, at times, it feels oversimplified. Overall, however, Herman’s book may help to ease readers into their teenage years, at a time when they want to be both independent and nurtured.

A sweet, if occasionally hackneyed, book of advice for young girls.

Pub Date: Jan. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-1632260208

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Thought Catalog Books/Prospecta Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2014

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This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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