________________ CM . . . . Volume XII Number 5 . . . . October 28, 2005


Growing Up With a Positive Outlook (And Having Fun Too!).

Virginia Sperl. Illustrated by Angie Zubrin.
Winnipeg, MB: Children’s Programs (c/o Virgina Sperl, 78 Rowland Ave,Winnipeg, MB R3J 2N7), 2004.
62 pp., cloth, $10.00.
ISBN 1-55383-048-2.

Grades 8-11 / Ages 13-16.

Review by Linda Ludke.

*1/2 /4


I've known kids that were so consumed with being the popular kid in high school that they allowed their marks to drop and when the rest of us graduated and moved forward in life, they found themselves stuck. Where was their fan club now? They had defined themselves by popularity and forgot to concentrate on the type of successful future they wanted and deserved.  Today most of them have settled into meaningless and unfulfilling jobs. Not so cool now.


This pep talk for teens outlines four "simple steps" to success: "Believe in Yourself", "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff", "How to Measure Success" and "Your Time is Valuable, Don't Waste It."  In a conversational tone, the author dispenses feel-good advice that relies on a heavy dose of positive thinking. Overly simplified statements abound, such as "If you think big, you will begin to believe big, think success and you will be successful. Pretty easy don't you think?" Youth are encouraged to "remind yourself that you can accomplish anything you tackle head-on, no matter how huge a task or how crazy it may sound," but specifics are not discussed.

     The informal writing style simulates a dialogue between the author and reader. Experiences from the author's youth provide perspective. However, some suggestions, such as "Take the time to write an informative and well-outlined resume. There are all kinds of websites to help you with that," would be more effective if a list of resources were included. A bibliography would also be useful in backing up such claims as "Did you know that your brain believes whatever you tell it?  It's true and there have been many scientific studies to support that fact." Unfortunately, the text is also marred by grammatical errors ("its" instead of "it's"), awkward sentences ("the word "reading" is not a very excited one") and proofreading errors ("We all have goals for ourselves even you think you don't").

     The chapters are disorganized and lack focus. "Step One: Believe in Yourself" covers self-esteem issues as well as job safety warnings, such as "a simple looking lettuce shredder can be a threat, especially to your fingers when not operated properly." Coping with a death is included in the "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff" chapter.

     Every page features a black and white cartoon sketch of pre-teen looking characters engaged in activities ranging from running a lemonade stand to saying "no" to drugs.

     A notice to the reader explains that "The aim of this book is to bring an understanding of the day to day trials and tribulations that our young people encounter in their lives." Although well-intended, this book won't appeal to its target audience. 

Not Recommended.

Linda Ludke is a librarian in London, ON.


To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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