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Thursday, January 16, 2014

Growing Up: Inside and Out. Written by Kira Vermond with illustrations by Carl Chin. Owlkids, 2013. $11.95 ages 9 and up

"As a guide to growing up, this is a book that's meant to be by your side for a long time. So if there's something you're reading about that doesn't feel right just now, put it aside. Chances are, you'll be more comfortable reading about it before too long. The point is, there's no reason to rush through growing up - or reading this book!"
This is a terrific book, and I would recommend it for any families with  children entering puberty. My experience in the library tells me that it is not likely to stay on the shelf long...and may never even be checked out. But, I think I can guarantee it will be GONE!

Many kids need the information that Kira Vermond so capably and openly provides in this guide meant just for them. The first few chapters are explanations for the many changes that they will experience...all in their own time and at their own pace. She assures them in her very first paragraph that it is something that we do differently...we are different people.
There is a lots to be read here, presented with the intent of informing them of what they might expect.

In the eight chapters that follow, she explores the many other issues that both genders face: sexual orientation, bullying, body image, and depression being just some of them. It is a healthy and needed conversation. She seeks advice from specialists in their field, and makes suggestions sure to encourage further talk. She includes tips, information boxes, and sections meant for boys, girls and then everybody. She asks questions to deepen the thinking, allowing her readers to have their own opinions at a time when they are often reluctant to share:

"Hate the way your ears stick out? Wish your chest were smaller? Can't stand your nose? We all have something we don't like about our bodies. But would you agree to have a doctor give you an operation to do something about it?"

In this text box titled Under the Knife! she asks those questions, provides statistical data and some of the pros and cons for deciding on plastic surgery. In How Are You Feeling Now? she asks her readers to explore the emotions that they experience in a variety of ways. In Be Careful, Will Ya, Boys? she appears to be speaking to Harris and his cousin (Harris and Me, Harcourt, 2007) and Angel Peterson and his friends (How Angel Peterson Got His Name, Yearling, 2004) and all those guys who do crazy things when they reach puberty.

There is a lot of information to digest which is why the author gives her readers the discretion to read it when they are ready, and to keep the book for a long time. If your kids want to know what's happening to them physically and emotionally, this conversation with a gifted and informed author will help them navigate the many bumps in the road that they are bound to experience. Parents, interested adults, teachers, and guidance counselors...get this into the hands of your tweens and teens, and use it to begin talking about issues that may be difficult to explore. It is a great starting point.

The back matter includes a list of websites, a bibliography and an index...all helpful and welcome.   

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