CM . . .
. Volume XII Number 13 . . . .March 3, 2006
Part of the “Deal with It” series designed to help young adolescents cope with conflicts and situations in their daily lives, these two titles are identical in layout, consisting of comic strips, quizzes, letters to a counsellor, a double-page spread devoted to dispelling myths, do’s and don’ts, and tips on how to deal with the featured concepts. “Did You Know” bands, running across the bottom of several pages, offer trivia and statistics. At the back of each book are lists of helplines, web sites, books and videos for further information. The text is written in the current kids’ language, including some slang. Illustrations are basic and cartoon-like, but quite dull and unimaginative.
The message in both featured books (with their melodramatic titles) is that gender discrimination exists and that guys and girls should be encouraged to challenge stereotypes. In Guyness, the author, Steve Pitt, explains the origins of North America’s ideas about masculinity and shows, by means of a quiz, that often people do not realize that they are perpetuating the myths about boys—one example is that housework is women’s work. He also cautions boys not to let gender discrimination stand in the way of their career choices, goals and dreams. There is a timely section on stereotypes in the media, especially television, video games and the internet. Girlness is very similar in content, but with the female perspective. Peters’ emphasizes that girls are much more than their appearance and are able to do work and participate in sports, which, in the past, were male-dominated. Her premise is also that a girl’s self-esteem should not be related to her beauty or being thin. She describes several scenarios in which girls are not being treated fairly just because of their gender and offers plenty of suggestions, although many of her suggestions are more easily said than done.
With reference to homosexuality, dating and sexual activity, these books have an older target audience than is suggested on the back cover. However, with their boring illustrations, it is quite unlikely that teens would choose them. Perhaps these titles would best be used as a teacher resource.
Gail Hamilton is a teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, MB.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.