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April 24, 2014

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Finding Strength & Feeling Good: Health | Series Made Simple Fall 2013

SMS1311 Health Finding Strength & Feeling Good: Health | Series Made Simple Fall 2013

Young people face social challenges unprecedented in their complexity. They need all the help they can get, but the sea of information out there, especially on the Web, is fraught with dubious advice. It’s important for students to have access to reliable materials that tackle contemporary concerns comprehensively and honestly, without condescension or sermonizing. Some of these sets address the most serious of issues (rape, drug use, self-mutilation, etc.) and do so with frank, detailed information. Others keep it light, gently offering ideas for having a positive attitude and being a constructive citizen. There is something here to provide help and hope for almost everyone, from early elementary to high school.

Preschool-Grade 4

ALLEN, Nancy Kelly. Winning by Giving. ISBN 978-1-62169-910-1; ISBN 978-1-62169-805-0; ISBN 978-1-62717-016-1. LC 2013937305.

GREVE, Meg. Skills for School Success. ISBN 978-1-62169-904-0; ISBN 978-1-62169-799-2; ISBN 978-1-62717-010-9. LC 2013937299.

––––. Skills for Social Success. ISBN 978-1-62169-905-7; ISBN 978-1-62169-800-5; ISBN 978-1-62717-011-6. LC 2013937300.

––––. Social Media and the Internet. ISBN 978-1-62169-907-1; ISBN 978-1-62169-802-9; ISBN 978-1-62717-013-0. LC 2013937302.

HICKS, Kelli L. Dealing with Defeat. ISBN 978-1-62169-902-6; ISBN 978-1-62169-797-8; ISBN 978-1-62717-008-6. LC 2013937297.

––––. Winning by Teamwork. ISBN 978-1-62169-903-3; ISBN 978-1-62169-798-5; ISBN 978-1-62717-009-3. LC 2013937298.

REED, Cristie. Dealing with Bullies. ISBN 978-1-62169-906-4; ISBN 978-1-62169-801-2; ISBN 978-1-62717-012-3. LC 2013937301.

––––. Winning by Working. ISBN 978-1-62169-909-5; ISBN 978-1-62169-804-3; ISBN 978-1-62717-015-4. LC 2013937304.

SUEN, Anastasia. Respecting Diversity. ISBN 978-1-62169-911-8; ISBN 978-1-62169-806-7; ISBN 978-1-62717-017-8. LC 2013937306.

––––. Winning by Waiting. ISBN 978-1-62169-908-8; ISBN 978-1-62169-803-6; ISBN 978-1-62717-014-7. LC 2013937303.

ea vol: 24p. (Social Skills Series). chart. glossary. illus. index. photos. websites. Rourke. 2013. lib. ed. $27.07; pap. $7.95; ebk. $27.07.

Gr 3-5–This upbeat series is perhaps most helpful for parents looking for a resource to help their kids gain a new perspective on matters such as academic success, community involvement, patience, and being part of a team. The books have a light touch, which may help readers be more receptive to the messages. Bold graphics and bright, dynamic photographs add appeal. Each volume opens with a list of vocabulary words for kids to define and questions that will help educators establish students’ prior knowledge and expectations before reading the book. The titles conclude with questions and an activity for teachers and parents to use in checking reading comprehension and content mastery or to expand discussion of the topic. The less-than-substantial texts mean that this set is not particularly useful for report writing, but the friendly advice warrants a place on library shelves.

ANTILL, Sara. Curiosity. ISBN 978-1-4488-9683-7; ISBN 978-1-4488-9922-7. LC 2012030867.

––––. Gratitude. ISBN 978-1-4488-9681-3; ISBN 978-1-4488-9920-3. LC 2012029012.

––––. Grit. ISBN 978-1-4488-9678-3; ISBN 978-1-4488-9917-3. LC 2012024530.

––––. Optimism. ISBN 978-1-4488-9682-0; ISBN 978-1-4488-9921-0. LC 2012030177.

––––. Self-Control. ISBN 978-1-4488-9679-0; ISBN 978-1-4488-9918-0. LC 2012026916.

––––. Social Intelligence. ISBN 978-1-4488-9680-6; ISBN 978-1-4488-9919-7. LC 2012028058.

––––. Zest. ISBN 978-1-4488-9677-6; ISBN 978-1-4488-9916-6. LC 2012020307.

ea vol: 24p. (Character Strength Series). glossary. index. photos. reprods. websites. Rosen/PowerKids Pr. 2013. lib. ed. $22.60; ebk. $22.60.

Gr 3-4–Antill repeats key words quite a bit in these volumes, so much so that the repetition becomes grating. Had these books been designed for early readers, the reiteration might make sense, but the target older audience will be annoyed. An additional issue is that the conclusion to each title is used to tout the character traits highlighted in other texts, creating awkward and forced segues. The definitions and examples presented for self-control, zest, and grit are problematic. For instance, Antill implies equivalence between learning an instrument, even though it can be “boring,” and Nelson Mandela’s endurance of 27 years of prison by using both as examples of “grit.” Rather than investing in the entire series, money is best spent on Gratitude, Curiosity, Optimism, and Social Intelligence. These volumes do the best at countering overlaps in content and repetitive wording with interesting, relevant celebrity profiles and helpful advice.

MEINERS, Cheri J. Be Positive! ISBN 978-1-57542-452-1; ISBN 978-1-57542-441-5. LC 2013011668.

––––. Feel Confident! ISBN 978-1-57542-453-8; ISBN 978-1-57542-442-2. LC 2013011667.

ea vol: illus. by Elizabeth Allen. 40p. (Being the Best Me Series). glossary. Free Spirit. 2013. Tr $14.99; pap. $9.99.

PreS-K–These books are simply written and will empower students to turn around bad days. Affirming statements such as “Even when something seems bad, I can learn from it or find some good in it” are accompanied by large, cheerful, illustrations that are perfect for prompting discussion about how the scene reflects the writing and whether similar examples can be found in students’ lives. The books conclude with numerous questions parents and teachers can ask to encourage additional reflection, as well as worthwhile hands-on activities to further emphasize positive thinking and foster self-confidence. Thanks in large part to the basic, clear language, these enjoyable volumes manage to avoid the overwrought proclamations that plague a lot of the self-help genre.

Grades 5 & Up

BENJAMIN, Daniel. Marijuana. ISBN 978-1-60870-825-3; ISBN 978-1-60870-831-4. LC 2011013906.

––––. Steroids. ISBN 978-1-60870-826-0; ISBN 978-1-60870-832-1. LC 2011037908.

BURLINGAME, Jeff. Alcohol. ISBN 978-1-60870-822-2; ISBN 978-1-60870-828-4. LC 2011019152.

––––. Crystal Meth. ISBN 978-1-60870-823-9; ISBN 978-1-60870-829-1. LC 2011023347.

PETERSEN, Christine. Inhalants. ISBN 978-1-60870-824-6; ISBN 978-1-60870-830-7. LC 2011021773.

––––. Vicodin and OxyContin. ISBN 978-1-60870-827-7; ISBN 978-1-60870-833-8. LC 2011027729.

ea vol: 64p. (Dangerous Drugs Series). diag. further reading. glossary. illus. index. photos. reprods. websites. Cavendish Square. 2013. lib. ed. $34.21; ebk. $34.21.

Gr 10 Up–The information in this solid series is presented in a clear, unembellished manner. The volumes, which cover a range of drugs, let the facts about these substances speak for themselves. In doing so, the authors produce a reliable source of material for students writing reports or for those wanting to inform themselves. The books feature anecdotes from users that personalize the effects of these drugs. Their stories will draw teens to the series perhaps even more than the chemistry- and physiology-based passages. Sidebars provide additional material. The one quibble is the use of some obviously staged stock photography that may elicit laughter and unfortunately distract from the strong texts.

BROWN, Tracy. Cyberbullying: Online Safety. ISBN 978-1-4488-9450-5; ISBN 978-1-4488-9454-3.

COHEN, Robert Z. Body Piercing and Tattooing: Making Smart Choices. ISBN 978-1-4488-9451-2; ISBN 978-1-4488-9453-6.

HANSON-HARDING, Alexandra. When a Friend or Loved One Dies: Grieving, Mourning, and Healing. ISBN 978-1-4488-9447-5; ISBN 978-1-4488-9458-1.

KLEIN, Rebecca T. Rape and Sexual Assault: Healing and Recovery. ISBN 978-1-4488-9449-9; ISBN 978-1-4488-9456-7.

LANDAU, Jennifer. Cybercitizenship: Online Rights and Responsibilities. ISBN 978-1-4488-9452-9; ISBN 978-1-4488-9455-0.

SHEA, John M. Self-Injury and Cutting: Stopping the Pain. ISBN 978-1-4488-9448-2; ISBN 978-1-4488-9457-4.

ea vol: 80p. (Helpline: Teen Issues and Answers Series). bibliog. chart. further reading. glossary. index. photos. reprods. websites. Rosen. 2013. lib. ed. $33.25; ebk. $33.25.

Gr 9 Up–These are strong choices for teens needing help with difficult situations. Report writers will also find an abundance of useful material. Sidebars cover additional topics, such as myths and facts, self-injury and child abuse, illegal music downloading, WikiLeaks, etc. The volumes conclude with noteworthy bibliographies and lists for further reading. A few images, however, stumble. For example, in Rape, a photo shows a young man grasping the arms of a young woman in distress, but it is not clear if the picture is meant to suggest an assault or an attempt to comfort. Potentially distracting photography aside, this frank set is a worthwhile purchase.

CROCKETT, Kyle A. Navigating Your School Cafeteria and Convenience Store. ISBN 978-1-4222-2882-1; ISBN 978-1-4222-8944-0. LC 2013009805.

––––. The Numbers: Calories, BMI, and Portion Sizes. ISBN 978-1-4222-2883-8; ISBN 978-1-4222-8945-7. LC 2013009809.

––––. Nutrition for Achievement in Sports and Academics. ISBN 978-1-4222-2884-5; ISBN 978-1-4222-8946-4. LC 2013009807.

ETINGOFF, Kim. Eating Out: How to Order in Restaurants. ISBN 978-1-4222-2877-7; ISBN 978-1-4222-8939-6.

––––. Healthy Fast Foods. ISBN 978-1-4222-2879-1; ISBN 978-1-4222-8941-9. LC 2013009802.

––––. How to Read Food Product Labels. ISBN 978-1-4222-2880-7; ISBN 978-1-4222-8942-6. LC 2013009803.

ea vol: 48p. (Understanding Nutrition: A Gateway to Physical & Mental Health Series). chart. diag. further reading. illus. index. photos. websites. Mason Crest. 2013. lib. ed. $19.95; ebk. $24.95.

Gr 7 Up–Rather than preach about good nutrition, these books offer visually appealing, conversational, and practical takes on healthy eating in a variety of settings. They address smart choices in the school cafeteria, convenience stores, restaurants, and fast-food joints, as well as eating for optimum sports and academic performance. The authors arm teens with good information on the physical and mental impact of healthy food, calorie intake, body-mass index, portion sizes, and reading labels. They also advocate a “healthy eating is a lifelong process” approach, encouraging right decisions while acknowledging that temptations exist. Readers can come to this set with little prior knowledge. The volumes are slim, but the large pages contain user-friendly graphics, text boxes, and color photos that pop. Appetizing presentations with sustenance.

MARSICO, Katie. Alcohol Abuse. ISBN 978-1-60870-848-2; ISBN 978-1-60870-854-3. LC 2011029915.

––––. Bullying. ISBN 978-1-60870-849-9; ISBN 978-1-60870-855-0. LC 2011034437.

––––. Depression and Stress. ISBN 978-1-60870-851-2; ISBN 978-1-60870-857-4. LC 2011016705.

––––. Drug Abuse. ISBN 978-1-60870-852-9; ISBN 978-1-60870-858-1. LC 2011026618.

––––. Eating Disorders. ISBN 978-1-60870-853-6; ISBN 978-1-60870-859-8. LC 2011012790.

ea vol: 80p. (Real Teens…Real Issues Series). bibliog. chart. further reading. glossary. illus. index. notes. photos. websites. Cavendish Square. 2013. lib. ed. $34.21; ebk. $34.21.

Gr 9 Up–While unflinching in content, this series is not gloom-and-doom in tone. Report writers and, more importantly, teens who may need a starting place for confronting a crisis will not be turned off by attempts to scare them straight or preach to them. Instead, Marsico gives abundant, solid information. The titles are effectively organized, starting with thorough descriptions of the subjects/problems, which are followed by their mental, physical, emotional, and social impacts and realistic means for surmounting them. The main texts are supplemented with personal anecdotes and meaningful statistics; they conclude with noteworthy documentations of sources and suggestions for further reading. This series is a standout because it’s factual without being clinical and compelling without being maudlin.

MILES, Lisa & Xanna Eve Chown . How to Survive Being Dumped. ISBN 978-1-4777-0704-3; ISBN 978-1-4777-0710-4.

––––. How to Survive Dating. ISBN 978-1-4777-0705-0; ISBN 978-1-4777-0711-1.

––––. How to Survive Having a Crush. ISBN 978-1-4777-0706-7; ISBN 978-1-4777-0712-8.

––––. How to Survive Mean Girls. ISBN 978-1-4777-0707-4; ISBN 978-1-4777-0713-5.

––––. How to Survive Zits and Bad Hair Days. ISBN 978-1-4777-0709-8; ISBN 978-1-4777-0715-9.

ea vol: 48p. (Girl Talk Series). diag. further reading. glossary. illus. index. photos. reprods. websites. Rosen Central. 2013. lib. ed. $29.25; ebk. $29.25.

Gr 6-9–These busy books are designed to look like magazines, with Cosmo Girl-like subtitles on the cover and lists, quizzes, peppy photos, and personal stories against a background of pastel patterns inside. They are not designed for classrooms, and, with most of the writing boiled down to bullets and text boxes, they don’t contain much report-worthy information. That leaves them to being used as guidance resources, and in this context they should be taken with a grain of salt. For example, Being Dumped suggests talking to a teacher about a break-up, which is inappropriate. The books will best serve browsers who are looking for a slightly tongue-in-cheek treatment of teen angst with some helpful nuggets here and there. Adolescents needing serious assistance will have to look elsewhere.


Cavendish Square’s “Real Teens…Real Issues” and “Dangerous Drugs” and Rosen’s “Helpline: Teen Issues and Answers” are all topnotch for their effective combinations of in-depth factual material, compelling personal experiences, and solutions for recovering. These series do not sermonize or sensationalize. They present information honestly, clearly, and respectfully. Mason Crest’s “Understanding Nutrition: A Gateway to Physical and Mental Health” is noteworthy for its appealing presentation and instructive, feasible approach to healthy eating. Rourke’s “Social Skills” and Free Spirit’s “Being the Best Me” are constructive offerings for younger readers; they are kid-friendly and address age-appropriate matters with a cheerful approach. Rosen’s “Girl Talk,” when kept in perspective, does offer some useful tidbits and can be purchased to provide a lighter take on teen issues. Four of PowerKids’s “Character Strength” volumes (Optimism, Curiosity, Gratitude, and Social Intelligence) rise far enough above glitches found in the rest of the series that they can be considered for additional purchase.

Chelsey Philpot About Chelsey Philpot

Chelsey Philpot was associate book reviews editor and editor of Series Made Simple. She’s on Twitter @chelseyphilpot, and blogs at Chelseyphilpot.com.

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