Quill and Quire

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Body Talk: The Straight Facts on Fitness, Nutrition and Feeling Great About Yourself

by Ann and Julie Douglas, Claudia Davila, illus.

Ann Douglas, a well-known author on issues of childhood and parenting, has teamed up with her 14-year-old daughter to write this book on body image issues for preteens. Topics covered include a historical look at beauty and fitness, how a person’s self-image might differ from reality and how to change that, skin problems and what to do about them, nutrition, dieting, cosmetic surgery, eating disorders, and fitness. That’s a lot of content for a book this short but it doesn’t seem daunting because the authors skilfully break the subjects down into a “sound bite” format that includes Chew on This! sections, which are facts superimposed on graphics of a slice of bread or an apple.

Most of the content relates to food, dieting, and body shape, which are big concerns for most girls. Many girls also worry about their general appearance and spend huge sums on cosmetics, hair care, and hair removal products, which are topics that are not as well addressed as weight-related issues, although skin health is covered. We liked the recipes for face masks and lip balm that can be made and used without supervision by girls 10 and up. They add to the upbeat and non-guilt-inducing air of the book.

The book’s cover is appealing and the information is accurate and easy to read. A page of web resources is included, with descriptions of the sites.