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Best Health and Well-Being Books for Tweens and Teens

A ROUNDUP OF NONFICTION BOOKS

ABOUT GROWING UP, FRIENDSHIPS & FEELING GREAT

 

Bunk 9's Guide to Growing Up cvrBUNK 9’S GUIDE TO GROWING UP:
Secrets, Tips, and Expert Advice on the Good,
the Bad and the Awkward
Written by Adah Nuchi
Illustrated by Meg Hunt
Vetted by Dr. Meryl Newman-Cedar
(Workman Publishing; $12.95, Ages 8-12)

Starred Review – Publishers Weekly

Bunk 9 at Camp Silver Moon is traditionally a bunk for 12-year-old girls who experience their first kiss or get an unexpected visit from their first period. But this summer the Silver Moon Sisterhood, 16-year-old C.I.T.s (Counselors in Training) take over their former bunk and are reminded of what it was like to be twelve. Bunk 9’s Guide To Growing Up written by Adah Nuchi and illustrated by Meg Hunt, with medical supervision from Dr. Meryl Newman-Cedar, takes an innovative approach to answering age-old questions about puberty.

“While there are a whole lot of changes that happen on the road to womanhood, they’re all leading somewhere completely wonderful. (And once you get the hang of them, tampons aren’t scary at all),” inspiring the teens’ idea for a book because the Sisterhood says, WE’RE HERE TO HELP.

The girls of Bunk 9, I mean young women, leave behind “the book” that contains magical and non-magical secrets, tips and expert advice for girls on the good, the bad, and the awkward, for the next groups of girls the following summers. Each girl has her own unique personality from Brianna the social butterfly, Emma L. the science wiz and Makayla the expert bra shopper.

The composition style book begins remembering Week One when the C.I.T.s were a mere twelve. It was the fourth Summer the girls would spend together, and they were anxious to meet each other as they were dropped off. But when Abby runs to meet Brianna she discovers that her old friend towers above her. Abby looked like a stick figure. As they unpacked their belongings, Emma R. displayed a stick of deodorant, while Emma L. had a little razor. As the reader turns page after page, she learns about the very beginning of puberty through a drawing of a real-life girl whose body changes as her hair starts to grow in new places and her hips begin to widen.

Hunt brings the reader into the story with colorful comic book art depicting the first time caring for your hair entirely on your own; saying no to zebras and getting white marks on your shirt (or how to put on a shirt without getting deodorant on it) with drawings of a zebra and a girl struggling to put her shirt on over her head. The drawings allow the reader to see pictures of women’s breasts and men’s unclothed bodies without feeling embarrassed seeing real life photographs.

Each C.I.T. journals her own tips. Abby tells the reader what it’s like to be a late bloomer and we learn about the disastrous results of Grace stuffing her bra. With sticker art of cacti, butterflies and rainbows you would place on a school book, the reader encounters real-life stories that all tween and teen girls will eventually experience. The reader learns about pads and tampons; cramping remedies; and various diets and feelings.

One of my favorite chapters is Week Six where the 16-year-olds discuss health. The reader learns that “staying healthy is about more than eating right; it’s also about getting regular exercise.” And as we encounter Jenna and Grace not getting along, we see that young bodies aren’t the only thing that changes during puberty― feelings and emotions change too. Explained in a way that all preteen girls can relate to, these not so easy topics are discussed in a manner that allows the parent to teach these necessary topics while the girls see that they may have differences but they should never allow them to tear them apart. Girls will walk away feeling like they, too, are part of the Silver Moon Sisterhood.

All About Us book coverALL ABOUT US:
Our Dreams, Our World, Our Friendship
Written by Ellen Bailey
Illustrated by Nellie Ryan
(Andrews McMeel Publishing; $12.99, Ages 8-12)

There’s nothing better than sharing your most precious thoughts, feelings, and dreams with your best friends. Writer Ellen Bailey with illustrator Nellie Ryan, have created a wide variety of games, quizzes and questionnaires to play along with your BFF to find new ways to discover why your friendship is so special in All About Us, a companion book to All About Me.

Ryan’s illustrations welcome the reader to two diverse teenage girls surrounded by water colored painted red, pink and blue hearts who are happily asking and answering questions on knowing me and knowing you; special memories of when they met; and what does the future hold for them.

Friends are asked to individually make a playlist of their top ten tunes marking Hit or Miss on the side, letting the BFF choose if your songs are a hit or miss, and the BFF gladly does the same for your list. Daydreaming about your future children wouldn’t be fun without listing your top boy and girl names, and seeing if your pal and you will both have daughters named Emma!

With hours of questions displayed on lavender and white pages to keep best buds occupied, tween readers can complete the questions page by page or skip around to find what interests them. From drawing silly sketches of your friend to choosing their top movie choices for movie night, the reader creates a lasting record of their friendship. Ryan allows plenty of space to complete quizzes and fill-in sections. Knowing that girls will find a page that fits the mood and moment, each page ends with date, time and place and completed by which is a great way for friends to remember the day with fondness.

Bailey gives preteens a chance to walk away from the computer screen and spend time together learning things they never knew about their BFF, while rediscovering new details of what they already know. This is a great book to bond girls together and use their imaginations by exploring their artistic and writing skills.

Project You Book CoverPROJECT YOU:
More Than 50 Ways to Calm Down, De-Stress and Feel Great
Written by Aubre Andrus with Karen Bluth, PhD
Illustrated by Veronica Collignon
(Switch Press/Capstone; $14.95; Ages 14 and up)

Starred Review – VOYA

Growing up is hard and learning to feel good about yourself under everyday stressors is something everyone needs tools for to lead a happy, healthy life as broken down by children’s book author Aubre Andrus with Karen Bluth, PhD in her latest book Project You, with a mix of photos, and illustrations by Veronica Collignon.

Andrus breaks down 50 ways to simplify life for the young adult reader, acquainting them with concepts of mindfulness, breathing, healthy eating and finding balance. Chapters such as the physical practice of yoga, demonstrates photographic poses for relaxation and stretching. Photos of young girls journaling in foreign cities and then a drawing of a girl holding a gratitude journal gives a wide assortment of visuals to reach various moods. The reader is given ideas on ways to de-stress with recommendations for happy music from the ’60s to present to change your mood, and finding a new hobby such as photography or learning a new tune on the guitar.

“The more you stay in the present moment, the more you’ll let go of stressing about things that may happen in the future or things you might regret about the past. This is why a lot of research has shown that people who practice mindfulness are less depressed, less anxious, and less stressed.”

This book lists activities, exercises, crafts and recipes that can help all ages transform their mindset and their emotions. Mindfulness tips are displayed throughout the book, such as in the chapter “Find A Furry Friend”, Andrus says, “Whether it’s your pet or an animal in a petting zoo or park, take time to just observe the animal. If you notice that your mind starts to drift as you are watching, gently bring your attention back to that animal.” As I read through the book, I skipped chapters then returned to them later; checked out the songs she suggests to uplift my mood and put ingredients on my shopping list for her smoothie recipe.

Adults can read the book and make suggestions to their teens, or teens can read and create their own gratitude journal. “The Wellness Check” was a great way to review what may need improvement and how you can make these changes. The last chapter “How To Ask For Help” gives the reader resources she can turn to whether it’s a doctor, social worker or school counselor she knows asking for help makes you stronger, not weaker. It’s a great book to keep on the bookshelf and return to when you need that extra support.

  • Reviewed by Ronda Einbinder

 

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Big Nate: Great Minds Think Alike By Lincoln Peirce

Big Nate: Great Minds Think Alike by Lincoln Peirce
is reviewed by Dornel Cerro.

9781449436353_frontcover

That mischievous boy with a winning personality is back in a new compilation of colorful comic strips called Big Nate: Great Minds Think Alike (Amp! Comics for Kids/Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2014, $9.99 paperback, Ages 8-12). Nate has a lot of big ideas for fun and achieving greatness and tries his hand at Sudoku, life skills coaching, painting, business, and a world record holder of anything (the only record he holds is for detention).

Big Nate fans will be pleased to see favorite characters from past volumes: his clueless dad; Mrs. Godfrey, his strict teacher; teacher’s pet, Gina; and Nate’s best buddies, Frances and Teddy.

Hilarious vignettes include a planned YouTube video of Nate jumping off a shed onto a trampoline while dunking a basketball into a hoop ends in a flop. Attempting to form his own lawn mowing business, he works during a heat wave and is unable to finish even one lawn. Turning to something less strenuous, Nate offers to cool people off with his water hose for $1.00. Unfortunately, he doesn’t adjust the nozzle spray, creating very unhappy customers.

 

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Interior spread from Big Nate: Great Minds Think Alike by Lincoln Peirce, Amp! Comics for Kids/Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2014.

Nate also tries to propel his friend Frances to greatness by competing against Nate’s archenemy “brainiac” Gina for “Outstanding Scholar” medal (p. 100). Unfortunately for Nate and Frances, Gina is one step ahead of them.

Nate’s instructions to Teddy on how to write a three page report on the Boston Tea Party in just one page are an absolute riot. Many teachers are on to student tricks like these: large font and dragged out sentences and words. Here’s an example: “When King George III received news of the Boston Tea Party, he flew into a rage.” A super-long “ARRRRRRRRRRRRR” fills up three panels of the strip, and of course, several lines on Nate’s paper.“Just call me Dr. Filler’!” quips Nate (p. 72).

Finally, my favorite: Nate’s outburst in the (quiet) library when teased about reading a comic strip popular with the girls catches the attention of the librarian. “The life of a school librarian is never dull, “ she muses stoically ( p. 79). Amen, sister.

Big Nate fans, those who enjoy comic anthologies, and reluctant readers will appreciate this collection. Also steer them to Peirce’s well-illustrated Big Nate novels. Big Nate is a growing hit at my school library and I look forward to putting this book into eager hands. Recommended for ages 8-12.

Visit Lincoln Peirce’s Big Nate website www.bignatebooks.com for info on his books, videos about the author, games, a link to the comic strip, and more. See Lincoln Peirce discuss how he works in this YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7TOTYCrLKSM

 

 

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Mother’s Day Books

This post is dedicated to moms everywhere.  I’ve selected a couple of books that celebrate the superhero qualities so many mothers possess.

cover

New in 2013 is My Mom is The Best Circus by Luciana Navarro Powell (Robin Corey Books, $7.99, ages 0-3) and if you think you recognize the mom, you’re right – it’s YOU!

“My mom is the best circus,
a one-woman show.
She’s the ringmaster,
a juggler,
and the band maestro.”

Read how this mom’s performance needs no admission ticket and the Big Top she calls home never goes on the road.

Luciana_Navarro_Powell__My_Mom_is_the_Best_Circus2

A sturdy, 26-paged glossy board book narrated by a little boy and filled with fun illustrations, My Mom is The Best Circus will lift spirits and get lots of giggles. Children will identify with the kids in the story and their mom’s uncanny ability to sometimes be “a magician, other times, a clown.” While recommended for ages 0-3, parents will likely have to take the time to explain all the circus metaphors. Even so, it’s a great opportunity for some lively interaction, especially if a youngster has been to the circus or seen one in movies.

9781449409722_frontcoverMy Mom is the Best Circus will entertain kids, but this next one is for us moms! Are you a fan of Baby Blues like I am? Scribbles at an Exhibition: Scrapbook 29 (Andrews McMeel, $12.99) by Rick Kirkman and Jerry Scott features a collection of this King Features syndicated comic strip. Packed with 128 pages of hilarity, Scribbles at an Exhibition will cheer up even the most exhausted superhero mom. Some strips are in color and others are in black and white, but it doesn’t matter because each cartoon is better than the next and they’re all so good.

The award-winning team of Kirkman and Scott have been getting it right since the beginning of Baby Blues back in 1990. Following Daryl and Wanda’s MacPherson’s trials and tribulations at home with kids Zoe, Hammie and baby Wren have always made me feel I am not alone. And I’ve been known to cut out a strip (from the newspaper not the book) and put it on the fridge with a magnet for the whole family to see. Check out the Baby Blues website here for tons of neat facts, a blog, archives, the history of the strip, and things to purchase. And as Daryl says to Wanda:

“I’m sure you had a hard day, but I don’t think there is such a thing as a chocolate I.V.,” to which Wanda replies, “Well, there should be.”  So moms, here’s to chocolate I.V.s, a comfy couch and your very own copy of  Scribbles at an Exhibition: Scrapbook 29 to make Mother’s Day just right.

-Reviewed by Ronna Mandel

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An Olympics Puzzle or Two

 EXERCISE THOSE BRAIN MUSCLES

Andrews McMeel Publishing and The Puzzle Society have put together two new London-themed puzzle books perfect for down time when watching the Olympics this summer.  The first, Pocket Posh London, 100 Puzzles & Quizzes (Andrews McMeel, $7.99) is packed with crossword puzzles, word searches and other word games all tied into this bustling city. Whether you have to find the name of a London landmark or spell out a tourist attraction, you’ll probably not have to use the Solutions section in the back if you’ve been tuned in to the Olympic games on TV. Carry this portable book out to dinner or to the park to keep London on call.

Pocket Posh London Sudoku, 100 Puzzles (Andrews McMeel, $7.99) puts assorted facts and trivia about this popular city at your finger tips. Add to that the variety of Sudoku puzzles provided in 3 difficulty levels and you’re set. Forget the commercials while you’re tuned into the Olympics, pick up a copy of the Pocket Posh London Sudoku, 100 Puzzles and like the best gymnasts, its challenging puzzles will keep you on your toes.

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A Mom’s Summer Survival Kit Great Books Giveaway

The kids are home, the house is a mess, and all you hear is “Mommy, mommy, mommy!”  While we cannot provide an escape plan, we can offer you the chance to win some really super books for when you carve out some ‘me’ time (even if that involves reading helpful parenting books) and find the perfect place to relax, kick off your shoes and read, read, read. OR maybe you know a mom who could REALLY use these books. Score points and enter the contest to win the prize for her.

Good Reads With Ronna has teamed up with Andrews McMeel Publishing to offer a “just what I needed” prize package (worth almost $50) of essential reading and a treat for your little ones, too!

Here’s what you can win:

No Regrets Parenting -Turning Long Days and Short Years into Cherished Moments with Your Kids by Harley A. Rotbart, M.D. ($14.99)

Toilet Training Without Tantrums by John Rosemond ($12.99)

Mom’s Pocket Posh Ages 4-6 ($7.99)

Numbers Caterpillar-Shaped 2-Sided Board Book ($11.99, ages 3 and up)

The giveaway begins today and ends midnight on July 17, 2012.  To enter, send your name and address now in an email to Ronna.L.Mandel@gmail.com and write MOM’S SUMMER SURVIVAL in the subject. Then be sure to leave a comment below for this blog post and LIKE Good Reads With Ronna on Facebook.  You’ll get an additional entry for following us on Twitter @goodreadsronna. For detailed giveaway rules please click here. Good luck.

What we love about this selection of books is that there’s something for everyone which ultimately makes mom very happy. The caterpillar-shaped Numbers book is great in the stroller, in restaurants, and on-the-go. It’s sturdy with an elastic closure, colorful, compact and we’ve discovered there are quite a lot of fun ways to play with Numbers, too. 

Mom’s Pocket Posh Ages 4-6  is an indispensable and handy item for moms to keep in a glove compartment or purse and is filled with 100 puzzles and games to play with your kids at a picnic, waiting in line for a movie or on a car trip. And there’s such a wide variety of Pocket Posh soft-covered books available to choose from. Into Jane Austen? They’ve got one.  A knitter maybe? They’ve got a Pocket Posh for that, too!  There’s even a complete calorie counter and with its gorgeous cover, you won’t mind pulling it out for all to see even if you did just down a 1000 calories-laden piece of cheesecake!

In No Regrets Parenting there are countless gems to take away from every chapter so that time spent with your children can be the best possible experiences ever. We think Rotbart’s idea about family celebrations is one worth noting. For example, he suggests making a half-birthday, the first day of school, a good report card, the first lost tooth or big snowstorm a reason to celebrate. While he clearly states these don’t have to be gift-giving occasions, nor do they have to become big events, they can, however, quite easily become days the entire family will look forward to year after year. These are really what great memories are made of. In another chapter he emphasizes the importance of walking somewhere local with your child rather than driving there. Taking time to just stroll leisurely (if the situation permits), talk and maybe hold hands is an ideal way to be “present” with your child rather than rushing about in the car to get someplace. Be spontaneous and see what happens.  It might be some of the best moments you and your child have shared in a long time. Broken down in main categories such as Basic Principles, Simple Strategies, Epilogue and an Appendix then put into topic chapters, all areas of life with kids is covered.  The brief chapters are well written and packed with ideas parents will refer back to again. In fact you may be surprised to learn that Rotbart even suggests parents keep the book in the bathroom as it was “not written to be read cover to cover.” If you have young kids or those heading off to college, No Regrets Parenting is an invaluable resource to have on hand, bookshelf or bathroom!

Author John Rosemond has written 15 parenting books and his advice is often “the last word” on many topics and it’s certainly true in Toilet Training Without Tantrums. This is a brief book which should come as welcome news to many readers. Rosemond feels that toilet training is a simple process therefore the book should cut to the chase quickly, too.  Rosemond’s sense of humor (which helps enormously when toilet training because it can be so stressful to so many) is evident from page 1 where he even tells readers what chapters they can skip depending on their current situation/predicament. Most importantly parents will discover that Rosemond believes the old-fashioned way of potty-training is the tried-and-true method and that Brazelton’s philosophy of waiting to see the “seven signs of readiness” is not necessarily what works best. After putting into action and seeing results from the recommended approach presented in Toilet Training Without Tantrums, moms can kiss their diaper bags good-bye.

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Congratulations Graduates!

Step One: Order cap and gown. Step Two: Buy this book.

My daughter is graduating from high school in less than a month and I’ve been wondering what to give her right after she gets handed her diploma. Of course first on the list is a gigantic hug and kiss for all her hard work (if any of you have gone through the college application process recently you will know what I mean), perseverance and positive attitude. Next of course is the big, beautiful bouquet of flowers, but don’t end there!

I’ve found the perfect graduation book to give not just to my senior, but to any graduate, be they college grad or someone who has just received their Masters, Doctorate, law or medical degree. Skip the Hallmark books and the check-out counter mini books at the chain store for this special occasion. I recommend putting your child’s major accomplishment front and center by making Celebrating Graduation: Share, Remember, Cherish by Jim McCann ($9.99, Andrews McMeel Publishing) an integral part of any graduation celebration. McCann, founder of 1-800-FLOWERS.COM and Celebrations.com, knows what is meaningful to his family and customers and with this book he’s shared a lot of his insights (and others’) in a delightfully accessible way.

Filled with fantastic quotes like this one most parents of teens will relate to:

Opportunity never
announces in advance
when it is going
to come knocking.
Make sure you’re not
hanging around
in your underwear.
Put some jeans on.
Answer the door. 

-Jim McCann

Inside the book readers will find wonderful anecdotes recalled by 1-800-Flowers.com employees in addition to advice, artwork, trivia and facts that help make Celebrating Graduation: Share, Remember, Cherish the perfect accompaniment to your graduation festivities.

If we are facing
in the right direction,
all we have to do
is keep on walking.

-Buddhist saying 

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