Guinness World Records 2010: The Book of The Decade, by Guinness World Records

Guinness World Records 2010: The Book of The Decade. By Guinness World Records.  Guinness World Records Limited, 2009.  280 pages. $28.95

Content: The most.  The largest.  The best.  The smallest.  The newest. The fastest.  The youngest.  The heaviest.  The strangest.  The longest.  The first.  The oldest.  The loudest.  The Guinness Book of World Records brings you world records from the year as well as from the first decade of the 2000’s.  From scientific discoveries and unique human bodies to sports records and cutting edge technology, this book covers a lot of ground.  This book is packed full of information, pages have very little blank space between the extensive text and many full-color photographs.  Just a quick flip through the book is exciting and entertaining, but it is also something that a reader could read from cover to cover.  Reluctant readers are likely to be inspired by this book, with appeal to both boys and girls.

Review: This book is fascinating, exciting, interesting, silly, and even educational.  There is some great science information as well as tons of facts about a huge diversity of things.  A great book for tweens to read together with a parent or a friend, there is something for everyone in this volume.  While there is a fairly extensive Table of Contents organized in page order, which is by category, there is no index, which detracts from the reader’s ability to pinpoint a particular world record.  The Guinness Book of World Records was the originator of this type of superlative information book in 1950’s.  This 2010 edition is a colorful, compelling, and exciting book, worthy of the Guinness name.

Genre(s): Non-Fiction

Reading/Interest Level: 8-14 years

Available in: Hardcover

ISBN: 978-1904994503

Similar Books: Time for Kids That’s Awesome!, Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! Enter if You Dare, Time for Kids Super Science Book, Guinness World Records 2011

Subjects: food, plants, animals, insects, electricity, world records, sports, the earth, celebrities, pets, music, movies, television, energy, buildings, transportation, vehicles, collections, stunts, human body, technology

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AMA Boy’s Guide to Becoming a Teen: Getting Used to Life in Your Changing Body, by Amy B. Middleman, MD and Kate Gruenwald Pfeifer, LCSW

AMA Boy’s Guide to Becoming a Teen: Getting Used to Life in Your Changing Body. By Amy B. Middleman, MD and Kate Gruenwald Pfeifer, LCSW.  Illustrated by Brie Spangler.  Jossey-Bass, 2006.  128 pages. $12.95

Content:  This book provides boys with an overview of the physical, emotional, social, and relational aspects of entering into the teen years.  Puberty and it accompanying body changes are explored in depth, from acne and growing taller to nutrition and the reproductive system.  There are also chapters exploring feelings, describing situations boys might find themselves in and helping them to articulate their feelings.  Changes and challenges in relationships are explored including with parents and elementary school friends.  The book provides ideas about how to address bullying, peer pressure and conflicts with peers.  This book also discusses sexuality, including crushes, dating, and sexual activity.  Boys having crushes on other boys is briefly mentioned with advice to talk to a trusted adult if the feelings are confusing.  There is mention of STD’s, sexual harassment, and sexual assault, as well as ideas for “healthy ways to be close,” ie non-sexual.  The book is illustrated with a multi-cultural cast of teenagers (all stereotypically attractive, none overweight) as well as anatomy diagrams.

Review: Overall this book provides a lot of important information in a matter-of-fact and approachable way.  It goes into detail about puberty and the other topics are addressed with less depth, but it is amazingly comprehensive, and touches on many important topics.  As mentioned above, it even speaks to boys having crushes on other boys, though it falls a bit short in stating that a boy might have those feelings, and fairly soon after telling them to talk to a trusted adult, if they feel confused.  I’m not sure that would be validating for a young boy with those feelings.  I also question how realistic some of it is, though I think it’s well intentioned, as I’m not sure teenagers who really want to have sex are going to, instead, try playing “together with a new puppy,” (p. 106), which is one of the book’s suggestions.  On the other hand, it certainly is a good message to send that there are other options, and that boys shouldn’t feel pressured into doing anything that does not feel comfortable to them.  The text is readable for all tweens, but the subject matter, particularly the discussions around sex, make it likely more appropriate for older tweens and young teens.  This would be a great one for parents to screen before giving to their child, to make sure the material is appropriate for that child’s maturity level, as they are so varied in the tween (and teen) years.

Genre(s): Non-Fiction

Reading/Interest Level: 12 -14 years

Available in: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook

ISBN: 978-0787983438

Similar Books: The “What’s Happening to My Body?” Book for Boys, The Boy’s Body Book: Everything You Need to Know for Growing Up YOU, On Your Mark, Get Set, Grow! A “What’s Happening to My Body?” Book for Younger Boys

Subjects: puberty, boys’ bodies, human bodies, growing up, hygiene, health, nutrition, sexuality, feelings, sex


The Twits, by Roald Dahl

The Twits.  By Roald Dahl. Illustrated by Quentin Blake.  Puffin, 1982. 87 pages. $6.99

Plot: The Twits are awful people.  My Twit has a disgusting spiky beard that he never washes; it is full of bits of food and other debris.  Mrs. Twit is ugly, but she wasn’t always that way.  Her face got uglier and uglier until eventually the ugliness of her face matched the ugliness of her thoughts.  The Twits do not seem to like anyone, even each other.  They spend most of their time thinking up or carrying out cruel tricks on each other.  Mrs. Twit feeds Mr. Twit worms in place of spaghetti.  Mr. Twit adds small bits of wood to Mrs. Twit’s walking stick every day to convince her she has a terrible case of the shrinks.  The tricks go back and forth and back and forth, until the day the birds and monkeys get involved.  Will the mugglewump monkeys have to spend the rest of their lives upside down, like Mr. Twit would like them to?  Will the birds continue to be made in the Twits Wednesday night bird pie?  Will the Twits ever get what they deserve?

Review: Roald Dahl never fails to make his stories unique and weirdly twisted.  With The Twits, he did not disappoint.  His gentle, melodic, and matter-of-fact writing belies the darkness of the Twits’ story, but this works to keep readers engaged and not too uncomfortable.  Readers will be justifiably and satisfyingly outraged at the preposterous, mean, and warped behavior of two of Dahl’s worst characters.  When the monkeys finally decide enough is enough, readers will root for them and hope they succeed in exacting revenge on these despicable people.

Genre(s): Humor

Reading/Interest Level: 8-12 years

Available in: Hardcover, Paperback, Audiobook

ISBN: 978-0439269704

Subjects: tricks, misanthropy


The Dreamer, by Pam Muñoz Ryan

The Dreamer.  By Pam Muñoz Ryan. Illustrated by Peter Sis.  Scholastic Press, 2010. 372 pages. $17.99

Plot: A fictionalized biography of celebrated poet Pablo Neruda’s childhood, The Dreamer is magical and beautiful with pointillist pen and ink drawings that combine with the t4ext to create a poetic and graceful novel.  Pablo Neruda was born Neftalí Reyes in Temuco, Chile.  Neftalí is a dreamer.  He has an active and creative imagination and often has his head in the clouds.  He finds beauty in everyday things and appreciates the magnificence of the natural world around him.  But Neftalí’s father doesn’t approve of Neftalí’s dreaming.  His father is strict and overbearing, demanding and cruel, and Neftalí does his best to stay out of his father’s way.  His father wants him to excel in school and eventually become a doctor, but school is not Neftalí’s favorite place.  Neftalí is soft spoken, gentle, and slight in stature.  He is sensitive and becomes involved in fighting for social justice for the indigenous Mapuche people.  With his heart in writing poetry and his father’s disapproval for what he considers idleness, what is Neftalí to do?  How does he become Pablo Neruda?

Review: The Dreamer is fictional story about a poet, which itself contains poetry similar to the poet’s and the illustrations depict the poet’s imagination as well as create a visual poetry themselves.  This book is unique.  The illustrations tell part of the story.  The prose, written in third person but basically from Neftalí’s perspective, flows smoothly and draws the reader in.  There is something about the act of reading the book that makes the reader part day dreamer as well.  The book includes a note from the author about her inspiration for the story as well as few selected poems by Pablo Neruda.

Genre(s): Magical Realism, Fictionalized Biography, Poetry

Reading/Interest Level: 9-14 years

Available in: Hardcover, Paperback, Audiobook

ISBN: 978-0439269704

Subjects: Chile, poets, poetry, growing up, social justice, hopes, dreams, family, activism

Selected Awards: 2011 Pura Belpré Author Award, 2010 ALA Notable Children’s Book for Older Readers, 2010 Kirkus Best Children’s Books


On Your Mark, Get Set, Grow! A “What’s Happening to My Body?” Book for Younger Boys, by Lynda Madaras

On Your Mark, Get Set, Grow! A “What’s Happening to My Body?” Book for Younger Boys. By Lynda Madaras.  Illustrated by Paul Gilligan.  Newmarket Press, 2008.  104 pages. $9.95

Content: On Your Mark, Get Set, Grow! Introduces preteens to the changes that are happening or will happen throughout puberty.  Chapters cover the growth of sex organs, body and facial hair, height spurts, weight and muscles, body odor and pimples, erection and ejaculation and “Becoming Your Own Self.”  With straightforward, understandable information as well as some humor, Madaras takes boys through the various changes they will experience, all the while reassuring them that these changes are entirely normal and natural and that variation in responses to puberty is also completely normal.  The text includes cartoon-like illustrations that further demonstrate points and/or are detailed diagrams of body parts.  Illustrations represent boys from a variety of racial backgrounds.  This book covers puberty from A to Z, and, in fact includes an index for quick reference to particular topics.  The content is comprised of the author’s text, the illustrations, sidebars with “tips,” quotes from other boys or men about their puberty experiences, and each chapter ends with a “Questions and Answers” section.  The Q&A sections addresses what one would imagine to be commonly asked questions from pre-pubescent and pubescent boys with practical, reassuring answers to each.  Though this book does address erections, masturbation, ejaculation and orgasm, it does not address issues of sexual attraction or sexual activity with another person.

Review: One of the things that makes this book so appealing is the author’s obvious comfort with the subject matter.  Madaras’ calm manner and matter-of-fact text puts the reader at ease, even though some of the topics could make young readers squirm in discomfort.  With practical and useful facts, and a non-judgmental approach, On Your Mark, Get Set, Grow! provides tween and young teens boys the information they need to navigate the confusing, potentially scary, and hopefully exciting time in their lives called puberty.

Genre(s): Non-Fiction

Reading/Interest Level: 9 -14 years

Available in: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook

ISBN: 978-1557047816

Similar Books: The “What’s Happening to My Body?” Book for Boys, AMA Boy’s Guide to becoming a Teen: Getting Used to Life in Your Changing Body, The Boy’s Body Book: Everything You Need to Know for Growing Up YOU

Subjects: puberty, boys’ bodies, human bodies, growing up, hygiene, health, nutrition


Soldier, DK Eyewitness Books, by Simon Adams

Soldier, DK Eyewitness Books.  By Simon Adams.  DK Publishing, 2009.  72 pages. $8.99

Content: Soldiers have been around a long time, defending their lands, invading other lands, protecting treasures.  Soldiers come from all over the world, wearing different uniforms, using different weapons and forms of intelligence, saluting to differing leaders.  In this information-packed book, readers can learn about soldiers from many times and places.  From English soldiers of 1204 defending medieval castles to samurai warriors of Japan and women soldiers to guerrilla fighters, there is a lot to learn about soldiers.  Read about enlistment, training, weaponry, uniforms, rations, intelligence and much more.  Learn the difference between a platoon and a brigade (a platoon is 30 soldiers a brigade is 3,000).  Find out how Zulu warriors shields were used to make the army look like it had twice as many soldiers as it did.  This book includes hundreds of facts along with hundreds of high quality, full color photos and a CD with Soldier Clip Art.

Review: High interest and high quality facts and visuals make this book a great choice for a tween interested in anything soldier-related.  Topics covered allow for a comprehensive overview of the subject, and there are also many intriguing details.  Many tweens, particularly tween boys, are fascinated by war, so this book is a good way to get those kids reading at a challenging level.  While some of the most harsh and dramatic realities of war are glossed over, this book maintains a fairly neutral stance without glorifying violence.  When a specific battle is discussed, there is a mention of the number of soldiers injured and killed.  There is a two-page spread on morale, and a two-page spread called “Honoring the soldier,” but the pictures include very little in the way of death or injury.  It’s a fine line, because too much gore could make the book inappropriate for this age group.  Too little, protects readers from the full story.  Overall, this is a high quality book, includes an index, and a timeline of soldiers and wars.

Genre(s): Non-Fiction

Reading/Interest Level: 8-12 years

Available in: Hardcover, Paperback

Similar DK Eyewitness Books: World War I, World War II, Arms & Armor, Battle, Civil War, American Revolution, Vietnam War

Subjects: soldiers, artillery, tanks, armor, army, navy, air force, marines, battlefield, battles, war, weapons, intelligence, spies, troops, mines


Think for Yourself: A Kid’s Guide to Solving Life’s Dilemmas and Other Sticky Problems, by Cynthia MacGregor

Think for Yourself: A Kid’s Guide to Solving Life’s Dilemmas and Other Sticky Problems. By Cynthia MacGregor.  Illustrated by Paula Becker.  Lobster Press, 2008.  142 pages. $14.95

Content: Ethical dilemmas start when we’re young.  What to write in a thank you note to the aunt who sent you a sweater you hate?  What to say to a friend who wants to copy your math test?  What to do when you suspect a classmate might try to hurt himself?  These and many more dilemmas are included in Think for Yourself.  The introduction to this book begins with a step-by-step process for analyzing problems.  Then four chapters analyze dilemmas with friends, family, grown-up, and “everyday dilemmas.”  Each dilemma is presented in narrative form.  Then the following three questions are asked and answered by the author: Why is this a dilemma?  If you think of a solution, but it isn’t a good one, what is the problem with that solution? Is there a way around the problem?  The overall themes of the book include solving dilemmas while being truthful, without lying, without hurting anyone’s feelings, and while remaining true to oneself.  Over 50 realistic dilemmas are presented in this instructive and informative book, which a young person could easily use to figure out a solution to her/his own problem.

Review: This book is a great idea.  There are so many problems which tweens have to struggle with, it is a great option to have a book to consult and gain ideas and confidence from.  There are a few issues I have with the book.  Firstly, even though the title is, “Think for yourself,” there is a lot of advice and reference to what the right thing to do it.  I agree with the author in most cases, but it seems a little more instructive than the title implies.  Also, there were dilemmas for which the author recommended ways to skirt the truth in order to avoid hurting people’s feelings.  I agree that hurting people’s feelings is not ideal and avoiding hurting people’s feelings is a good thing to do, but basically she was advising readers to tell “white lies,” she says, “…technically you’re not lying,” and that made me uncomfortable.  I would have hoped for a better approach.  Otherwise, the book provides solid, sound information and could really help a confused, torn tween or teen.

Genre(s): Non-Fiction

Reading/Interest Level: 8-14 years

Available in: Paperback

ISBN: 978-1897073902

Similar Books: What Do You Stand For? For Kids: A Guide to Building Character; Speak Up and Get Along!: Learn the Mighty Might, Thought Chop, and More Tools to Make Friends, Stop Teasing, and Feel Good About Yourself; Stand Up for Yourself and your Friends: Dealing with Bullies and Bossiness and Finding a Better Way; A Smart Girl’s Guide to the Internet: How to Connect with friends, find what you need, and stay safe online

Subjects: problem solving, ethics, ethical dilemmas, friendship, families, honesty