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Read the book first to see if it is a good fit for your child
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.