An upbeat, reassuring tool kit for tweens and young teens.



A wide-ranging guide to harnessing the brain’s awesome powers on the journey through adolescence.

De-emphasizing bodily changes, the brain takes center stage as the key to understanding individual differences, identifying character strengths and personality traits that affect how we experience the world, maintaining a positive mindset, focusing on what we can control, and letting go of what we can’t change. Confidence-building quizzes, tips, and online resources aim to help readers manage setbacks through cultivating a growth mindset, managing stress, and improving sleep. Techniques for improving one’s learning offer useful, practical advice. The message that, at the fundamental level of brain structure, individuals are more alike than not is comforting. The book touches only lightly on topics of gender and sexuality. Many of the recommended activities are geared to middle-class readers with considerable autonomy and financial resources. The dietary guidelines reflect a Western diet, although there is mention of vegetarian and vegan lifestyles. Exercise (including suggestions for those with disabilities), reading (and what to do if you don’t enjoy it), sensible social media use, and cultivating empathy are also covered. The text is broken up into manageable chunks utilizing a variety of fonts, and the chatty style is accessible. Despite some limitations, this presentation of growing up through the angle of brain development sends a positive message: Everyone’s different, but the upheavals of adolescence are universal.

An upbeat, reassuring tool kit for tweens and young teens. (glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: July 16, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-316-52888-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Poppy/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019

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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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A loud, cynical cash grab—far from amazing.



A couple more YouTube stars write a book.

Howell, who goes by "danisnotonfire," and "AmazingPhil" Lester are the latest YouTube stars hoping to cross over to the world of books. Instead of crafting a memoir or adapting their videos into a fictional series, the duo have filled these 225 pages with bold graphics, scatological humor, and quirky how tos that may entice their fan base but will leave everyone else out in the cold. It contains a wide variety of nonsense, ranging from Phil's chat logs to information on breeding hamsters. There's an emoji-only interview and some Dan/Phil fanfiction (by Howell rather than a fan) and even a full double-page spread of the pair's unsuccessful selfies. All this miscellany is shoveled in without much rhyme or reason following introductory pages that clearly introduce the pair as children, leaving readers who aren't in on the joke completely out of the loop. The authors make no attempt to bring in those on the outside, but in all honesty, why should they? The only people buying this book are kids who already love everything Dan and Phil do or clueless relatives in desperate search of a gift for the awkward teens in their lives. The book's biggest fault is its apparent laziness. It feels like something slapped together over a weekend, with no heart or soul.   

A loud, cynical cash grab—far from amazing. (Nonfiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-101-93984-0

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 30, 2015

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