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"Girl in the Know"

Terri Schlichenmeyer | 8/4/2010, 11:47 a.m.

All your life, you couldn't wait to grow up. You always dreamed of the things you'd do when it happens. You'd have lots more freedom, for one. More privileges, fewer curfews. You'd be able to make some of your own decisions.

But now that you're growing up, you're wondering what's so great about it. Your skin is gross, your moods are wild, your body is doing weird things, you feel like you can't trust your friends... but you'll get through it, especially if you've got "Girl in the Know: Your Inside-and-Out Guide to Growing Up" by Anne Katz, RN, PhD (illustrated by Monika Melnychuk) on your shelf.

Let's start on the outside. For most of your life, you've probably used different names for the body parts that make you a girl. Katz says that's fine - but you should know the proper names anyhow, "even if they sound funny." Those body parts will soon be changing (if they haven't already) and you'll want to know how to deal with this natural part of life.

And then there's the inside of you. Chances are that you've already noticed your moods going up and down like an insane rollercoaster. That's normal, Katz says. Your hormones and your brain are "under construction" and on their way to becoming adults, too. Decision-making - one of the things you were so excited to do when you grew up - is harder than you thought it would be. It helps to talk about it, Katz says.

But who do you talk to? Your parents are impossible, your best friend is now your worst enemy, and cliques are so hard to break. You're no doubt feeling pressure to act a certain way, Katz says, and that's not easy. There are ways to keep your friends and talk to your parents, and other adults or older siblings can lend a different perspective.

Now that you're almost grown up, you also need to start taking responsibility for you, inside and out. Get enough Z's. Feed your brain by reading books about other teens. Eat right and find an exercise you really like (it doesn't have to look like exercise to be exercise). Maintain a healthy weight in a healthy way. See your doctor. Don't be afraid to ask questions.

Is it time to have The Talk with your preteen daughter (or with Mom)? For you, "Girl in the Know" could also be called "Adult in the Know."

Author, adjunct professor, and counselor Anne Katz writes with a hip kind of authority that won't make girls roll their eyes. I liked that "Girl in the Know" takes things further than all the other "what's going on with my body"-type books: Katz also matter-of-factly offers advice on friendships, acceptance, and health, while the illustrations by Monika Melnychuk keep things generally light.

While definitely meant for 9-to-15-year-old girls, there's no "No Boys Allowed" sign on the cover of this informative conversation-starter. For kids on the edge of growing up, "Girl in the Know" is a book to know about.