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Mad for Ads: How Advertising Gets (and Stays) in Our Heads

by Erica Fyvie and Ian Turner (ill.)

The cover of Erica Fyvie's Mad for AdsThree thousand. Studies report that’s how many advertising messages we see in a single day. From bus shelters to television commercials to sports uniforms, they’re everywhere – and designed to affect how we think and feel, whether subtly or overtly.

In her new nonfiction book Mad for Ads: How Advertising Gets (and Stays) in Our Heads, Erica Fyvie, winner of the Green Earth Book Award for Trash Revolution, introduces young readers to the incredibly complex business of advertising.

To paint a picture of how advertising works, Fyvie begins by inventing a product, Bubblarious! Bubble Gum, and takes readers behind the scenes to show them how every product gets an advertising plan with a goal, target audience, and focus, among other key factors. The audience for Bubblarious is “kids aged 8–12 with spending money.” Mad for Ads follows the product as its ad plan comes to life with a logo, slogan, visuals, and a reason for you to buy it.

Along the way, Fyvie explains the various tactics advertisers use – which include a dash of trickery – to convince us to make a purchase. Psychological pricing makes a price ending in 99 cents seem more reasonable than a round number; sensory branding appeals to our senses with flashing colours and repetitive music; and an advertisement’s direct gaze creates an emotional connection between the observer and the ad’s subject.   

Fyvie also explores the concept of our digital footprint, information collected from the websites we visit, the photos we tag, and the comments we post that tracks who we are, where we are, and when we’re online. Mad for Ads introduces the issue of digital privacy and why it’s so important for young readers to be aware of their online presence.

Mad for Ads is a wonderful introduction to the expansive topic of advertising. Fyvie has a knack for making the content accessible by breaking up the information with sidebars, a timeline, and a handy glossary. All of this is beautifully amplified by Ian Turner’s vibrant and eye-catching illustrations. They not only demonstrate the all-consuming nature of advertising but also bring a welcome levity that’s sure to induce a chuckle or two.

Mad for Ads is a comprehensive toolkit that helps young readers become savvier at parsing the thousands of advertising messages they encounter every single day.


Reviewer: Inderjit Deogun

Publisher: Kids Can Press


Price: $18.99

Page Count: 64 pp

Format: Cloth

ISBN: 978-1-52530-131-5

Released: May

Issue Date: May 2021

Categories: Children and YA Non-fiction, Kids’ Books, Reviews

Age Range: 10–12