BRAVER, STRONGER, SMARTER

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

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

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 7, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

GUTS

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

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 11, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

THE BOY WHO FAILED SHOW AND TELL

Though a bit loose around the edges, a charmer nevertheless.

Tales of a fourth grade ne’er-do-well.

It seems that young Jordan is stuck in a never-ending string of bad luck. Sure, no one’s perfect (except maybe goody-two-shoes William Feranek), but Jordan can’t seem to keep his attention focused on the task at hand. Try as he may, things always go a bit sideways, much to his educators’ chagrin. But Jordan promises himself that fourth grade will be different. As the year unfolds, it does prove to be different, but in a way Jordan couldn’t possibly have predicted. This humorous memoir perfectly captures the square-peg-in-a-round-hole feeling many kids feel and effectively heightens that feeling with comic situations and a splendid villain. Jordan’s teacher, Mrs. Fisher, makes an excellent foil, and the book’s 1970s setting allows for her cruelty to go beyond anything most contemporary readers could expect. Unfortunately, the story begins to run out of steam once Mrs. Fisher exits. Recollections spiral, losing their focus and leading to a more “then this happened” and less cause-and-effect structure. The anecdotes are all amusing and Jordan is an endearing protagonist, but the book comes dangerously close to wearing out its welcome with sheer repetitiveness. Thankfully, it ends on a high note, one pleasant and hopeful enough that readers will overlook some of the shabbier qualities. Jordan is White and Jewish while there is some diversity among his classmates; Mrs. Fisher is White.

Though a bit loose around the edges, a charmer nevertheless. (Memoir. 8-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-64723-5

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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