A hodgepodge of self-help advice that loses its steam with its lack of focus and unfamiliarity with Gen Z icons.

BRAVER, STRONGER, SMARTER

A FUN AND EASY GUIDE TO BEING MORE MINDFUL, MORE CONFIDENT, AND MORE YOU!

Braver, stronger, smarter?

This mix-up of intention and execution begins as the author vents about the many crafted narratives that accompany preternaturally happy-looking selfies on social media and their potential impact on one’s confidence—aka, everyone’s happy, and I’m not. The initial pitch encourages readers to acknowledge their own confidence by disconnecting from social media and utilizing more time for creativity. Amid puzzles, exhortations, and exercises such as creating your own song, crafting a haiku, or trying sudoku, the author contradicts the original message of avoiding social media by encouraging readers to create their own apps, which most likely would tempt them to venture back online. Another stumble is the haphazard selection of celebrity quotes that are peppered throughout the book, including from Richard Branson and Lady Gaga, two people the lower edge of the publisher’s targeted “8 & up” audience would probably be unfamiliar with, along with Miley Cyrus, and Zac Efron, two former Disney Channel stars who date back 15 years. The book is designed to be written and doodled in, marking it for personal use rather than lending.

A hodgepodge of self-help advice that loses its steam with its lack of focus and unfamiliarity with Gen Z icons. (puzzle answers, quote sources) (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: July 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-7282-0953-1

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Sourcebooks eXplore

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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With young readers diagnosed with anxiety in ever increasing numbers, this book offers a necessary mirror to many.

GUTS

Young Raina is 9 when she throws up for the first time that she remembers, due to a stomach bug. Even a year later, when she is in fifth grade, she fears getting sick.

Raina begins having regular stomachaches that keep her home from school. She worries about sharing food with her friends and eating certain kinds of foods, afraid of getting sick or food poisoning. Raina’s mother enrolls her in therapy. At first Raina isn’t sure about seeing a therapist, but over time she develops healthy coping mechanisms to deal with her stress and anxiety. Her therapist helps her learn to ground herself and relax, and in turn she teaches her classmates for a school project. Amping up the green, wavy lines to evoke Raina’s nausea, Telgemeier brilliantly produces extremely accurate visual representations of stress and anxiety. Thought bubbles surround Raina in some panels, crowding her with anxious “what if”s, while in others her negative self-talk appears to be literally crushing her. Even as she copes with anxiety disorder and what is eventually diagnosed as mild irritable bowel syndrome, she experiences the typical stresses of school life, going from cheer to panic in the blink of an eye. Raina is white, and her classmates are diverse; one best friend is Korean American.

With young readers diagnosed with anxiety in ever increasing numbers, this book offers a necessary mirror to many. (Graphic memoir. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-545-85251-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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A painful and painfully recognizable tale of one girl’s struggle to make and keep “one good friend.” (author’s note)...

REAL FRIENDS

A truth-telling graphic memoir whose theme song could be Johnny Lee’s old country song “Lookin’ for Love in all the Wrong Places.”

Shannon, depicted in Pham’s clear, appealing panels as a redheaded white girl, starts kindergarten in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 1979, and her story ends just before sixth grade. Desperately longing to be in “the group” at school, Shannon suffers persistent bullying, particularly from a mean girl, Jenny, which leads to chronic stomachaches, missing school, and doctor visits. Contemporary readers will recognize behaviors indicative of obsessive-compulsive disorder, but the doctor calls it anxiety and tells Shannon to stop worrying. Instead of being a place of solace, home adds to Shannon’s stress. The middle child of five, she suffers abuse from her oldest sibling, Wendy, whom Pham often portrays as a fierce, gigantic bear and whom readers see their mother worrying about from the beginning. The protagonist’s faith (presented as generically Christian) surfaces overtly a few times but mostly seems to provide a moral compass for Shannon as she negotiates these complicated relationships. This episodic story sometimes sticks too close to the truth for comfort, but readers will appreciate Shannon’s fantastic imagination that lightens her tough journey toward courage and self-acceptance.

A painful and painfully recognizable tale of one girl’s struggle to make and keep “one good friend.” (author’s note) (Graphic memoir. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62672-416-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: Feb. 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

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