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on October 27, 2015
I bought this for my daughter who currently is seven with the thought I would have it stored away until I felt like she was ready to start talking in more detail about puberty, maybe sometime in the next year or when she is eight. I developed on the earlier side, as did my mother, so I am anticipating she may start pre-puberty in the next year or so. I am so glad I decided to read through the book before showing it to her because I have decided to return it and look for something else. As another reviewer mentioned, this book has a lot of content that could actually CAUSE insecurities about her body rather than prevent them.

What I like about the book:
It is simply written and easy for a younger girl to understand. It talks about puberty in a mostly positive way. It has fun illustrations that would appeal to my daughter and does talk about all bodies being different and so on, BUT…

What I DON’T like about the book:
As of now my daughter has a very positive self/body image. She is very comfortable in the skin she is in. From my observations, most girls in the target age of this book, 8-11, haven’t quite gotten the message yet that they should be looking critically at their own bodies or judge others for how they look. If they read this book, though, they WILL be exposed to these concepts. While my daughter does have a positive self-image at the moment and we have worked hard to cultivate that, I also know (and remember) how fragile that can be at the tween stage and the power of suggestion is huge at this age.

Here are some examples:
My daughter has a beautiful speckling of freckles across her nose. Most people around her have commented that they love them. SHE loves them. She said to me a few months ago that she wished she had MORE freckles. In this book, on page 36: “I have freckles. I hate them and wish I could get some lotion that would make my freckles go away. I need help!” While she loves her freckles, I could see reading this she may start to question how she feels about them. I could imagine her thinking, “Wait, are freckles considered to be ugly?”

Page 50-51, three questions are about girls’ insecurities of having a flat chest, then this one: “I have bigger boobs than all of my friends. Because of this, my friends are embarrassed to be around me because they think I’m very ugly and fat. I used to be very popular, but now I find myself dorky and lonely.” Yikes! Really?? I developed breasts earlier than my friends and was definitely insecure about them, wearing large shirts, etc., but NEVER did I ever think my friends wouldn’t like me because of them. The message that people may not like you because of anything having to do with your physical appearance is horrible. I know it is rampant in our culture, but I really would like to keep my young daughter from being exposed to this idea as long as I can. I realize the book is trying to prevent these kinds of thoughts, but the question in itself may get girls wondering and thinking about these things, not to mention re-enforcing the message that if you are fat, you are unlikable.

In the same vain, pages 62-63, titled Body Talk, all four questions from girls are about how other girls are thinner; how to stay thin; how to get thinner; and comparing your own body to your friends'. Talk about re-enforcing the idea that thin is ideal! I know the answers talk about all bodies being different and not to compare yourself, but these questions themselves might get our daughters thinking about whether they are thin enough and that it is normal to compare their bodies to their friends'. Yes, I realize she will face these issues at some point. I just feel there is no need to get these thoughts going at such an early age.

This is getting so long, but just know there are other parts in the book talking about comparing yourself to others physically; calling someone pizza face because of acne; insecurities if you haven’t gotten your period yet and are not considered a “woman” like your friends, etc. Again, I know that these are presented as questions and the book is telling the girls not to do those things or feel these ways, but the power of suggestion is so strong.

I wish there was a simple book about bodily changes/puberty which I could read to an eight year old girl without going in to explicit details about sex. This book would be much better if it just stuck to the facts about physical changes during puberty, how to take care of yourself, etc. and left out the question/answer section. The questions seem more appropriate for the second book for older girls (if even), not the target age of this book. I saw one recommendation in another review for "Reaching for the Moon," by Lucy H. Pearce. I will try that and then leave an update here.
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on May 16, 2014
I got this book for my 8-year-old for Christmas. Sensitive issues about body changes are becoming a hot topic around here as we begin to deal with pre-puberty. Because she is such a huge bookworm I thought this would be a great starting off point for her to learn about body changes. I think that this is one subject where you really have to take into consideration your own child's personality and decide how to approach these sensitive topics. With that being said I asked her to read the book on her own time and then we could talk about any questions that she has, leaving the ball in her court and leaving the door to conversation WIDE open.

The book has definitely given her the courage to talk about something she was very unsure about. She understands her body now and is actually excited about the changes taking place (I was NOT as a child BUT no one gave me a book like this or talked to me about anything!). I think the book has given her courage to ask questions and even given her vocabulary about the issues she otherwise wasn't sure how to articulate, if that makes sense. I think it also made her aware of other changes that she was not even aware about. No matter how you decide to use this book or other material it is imperative that you not embarrass or belittle your child. It is also imperative that you are there for them and answer questions appropriately and honestly. If I ever feel that something is inappropriate to talk about then I honestly tell them, "This isn't something that is appropriate right now but we will talk about it soon!" And then don't go back on your promise.

Some pretty funny "kids say the darndest things" moments have also happened because of the book. She knows that these are private topics that stay at home so she's very comfortable saying things to us that might make others blush or stutter. I won't go into that here but I'm chuckling right now as I type this, thinking of the things she's said!

Finally I want to mention that we're a super conservative Christian family. I found nothing in this book that I felt was perverse or misguided or inappropriate. It is merely an anatomical book about changes that happen in early puberty. God created these wonderful bodies of ours and it's important to understand the changes *before* they happen. If there's something in ANY book that we don't exactly agree with then we use it as a teaching moment and explain that some people think dealing with emotions or friends "this way" is okay but this is how our family chooses to do it. If I am made aware of a serious problem in a book or one that is most definitely not Godly then we discard it but this book was well written and we've been pleased in how it has helped build our daughter's confidence in an uncertain and sometimes scary time in a young girl's life! We will be getting the version for older girls when she's a little older.
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on February 22, 2013
I just bought this for my 9 year old and was so happy to see that had edited the previous version making a version for younger and older girls. It is excellent! First of all, it's branded American Girl which made my daughter love it without even opening the cover. It's like she knew she could trust everything it said.

I love how nicely it is organized and how it all leads up to the section on your body changing and getting your period. I thought that it simply described what is happening to her body and not to be afraid of it. I like how much time it devotes to the seemingly frivolous things such as pads, tampons, buying them, and how to be prepared. While yes, girls need to understand the biological facts what they really care about at this age is how to deal with it which this book does beautifully.

I wouldn't recommend giving this to your younger daughter without talking to her first, but it's a great guide and conversation starter - exactly why I purchased it.

I also loved how it devotes whole sections to overall health and putting the responsibility on her to get enough sleep, keep clean, get exercise, and make healthy food choices. Well done, AG!!
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on September 16, 2013
OK...so...as a single Dad of a 9 year old girl, many questions have been coming up. This is a Great book for the two of us and very empowering for my daughter. Definitely recommend it.
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on May 21, 2013
I would recommend this book to any parent wishing to introduce the topic of puberty to their 9-10 year old daughter without getting into intercourse, fertilization, etc. I think that comes in book (for older girls) and rightly so. One step at a time!
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on February 13, 2016
My daughter loves reading this book and having mommy/daughter discussions during. Great book for little girls who aren't staying so little. I bought for my 8 year old daughter and she reads it all the time. Now tells me the book suggest things like new toothbrush every few months so it is time to replace hers. Great way to discuss the changes to their bodies.
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I wanted a book to help me explain to my 10 year old daughter the changes that are beginning to take place in her body without, at this age, going into anything sexual. This book filled the bill nicely. As with most American Girl books, the text speaks to the child respectfully. The graphics are appealing, not at all silly yet not overly-detailed. I appreciated that this book did not tread on unnecessary ground regarding conception, contraception, etc. As a Catholic, I have had a hard time finding books that were not too graphic, that did not go into subjects contrary to my faith or beyond the child's maturity level, and yet were not too vague or old-fashioned and which make the topic seem taboo.

What worked for us and for my daughter's comfort level was for us to read the chapter on her period together, after which I allowed her to take the book and read the rest in privacy. She is an avid reader and likes reading about health, so that worked for us and none of the other chapters were so startling that she would not be okay with reading them on her own (e.g. hair growth, shaving, deodorant, breast development, bras, etc). The subject of menstruation was covered well. My only complaint would be that a couple of words, including vagina, were not defined in the chapter. That was okay for us because we were reading it together (which I think is the best way to use this chapter) so I was able to explain. Also, the picture of the uterus (just a little squiggle on a girl's abdomen) was a little bit abstract, so I was prepared in advance with a simple picture from an anatomy book.

This book helped my daughter be comfortable with the changes in her body. Each parent should decide what to read together and what, if anything, you feel comfortable having your daughter read on her own, depending on her age, maturity, and what is happening in her body already. For example, my daughter and I had already purchased bras for her together so that chapter was nothing unexpected. There is a second volume for older girls which I also purchased to have on hand when needed. I am grateful for these American Girl resources which give a modern presentation yet retain a sense of innocence and dignity.
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on March 17, 2013
What a wonderful book. Tastefully written and infirmative, without telling my 9 year old things she didn't need to know yet, such as sex. I would recommend this book to anyone who needs a little extra help starting the puberty talk with their daughter!
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on June 27, 2014
"I sincerely believe this book changed what would have likely been a long-lasting negative memory into a very positive experience. One she will look back on as feeling educated and empowered, and thus equipped to handle on her own."

My ‘tween-age daughter has special needs due to a chromosomal disorder. Between her disorder and medications, the doctors have been clear she would almost certainly have early onset of puberty. A terrifying thought as the main area we constantly struggled with was hygiene, due to both her slightly lower level of maturity and issues with gross & fine motor skills. Things like brushing her hair and teeth were just too hard for her and sometimes too hard for me as well. I had tried my best to discuss all aspect of hygiene and puberty with her on numerous occasions but certain aspects scared her while others she just could not understand. I came across this book and though I really couldn't afford it at the time, I bought it anyway and I am forever thankful that I did!

My daughter is an avid reader who prefers non-fiction. The layout of this book with its short chapters and one page subjects held her attention and she read it over and over again. She immediately began taking the initiative to brush her teeth and hair, as well as wearing deodorant, citing information from the book each time.

Just a few weeks after receiving the book, she went for her annual visit to her grandparents' home, eight hundred miles away. Exactly one week before her 11th birthday I received a call from her stating she believed she had received her period. At the time she was home alone with her grandfather who most certainly would not have known what to do. I, of course, was worried but her immediate response was, "Don't worry mom. The book explained everything. I know what to do." And indeed she did. She had taken the initiative to call her grandmother at work to locate the appropriate supplies, which she used correctly. She was not in the least bit scared, concerned nor embarrassed, for which I give 100% credit to this book.

I sincerely believe this book changed what would have likely been a long-lasting negative memory into a very positive experience. One she will look back on as feeling educated and empowered, and thus equipped to handle on her own.
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on June 10, 2015
This book served it's purpose. I got it to explain menstruation to my daughter. I have been talking to her about it for years, but felt that the visual of a book would clarify things and make them more real for her. There was plenty I didn't read to her. It talks about feeling ugly and insecure. Well that's not negativity I bring to my child. The power of suggestion is huge. She hasn't been called bad names, nor does she say them to others, I know this because we homeschool and are always together. The book was good to have, but I did leave out some of the information.
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