How My Body Works ¦ The Teenage Body Book
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How My Body Works
Illustrated by Frances Cony
'Enjoy understanding yourself' is the basic message behind these two body-guides. Althea's cheerful offering looks like a book for five-year-olds but the text and approach are better suited to the junior school - clear pictures and plain language make for easy understanding and may extend the book's range to older children with learning difficulties. The book brilliantly overcomes the habitual bugbear of defecation-portrayal by seating the proud possessor of all those intestines on the lavatory and showing the completion of the process that many similiar books are too coy to mention. Good on brain and nerves too, this celebration of human amazingness is much to be applauded.
The Teenage Body Book (whose text reveals it to be a second edition) starts from the premise that it's normal to be curious and worried about one's personal development - and a good job too, seeing that the book's whole content and rhythm are determined by the 'hundreds of questions you have always wanted to ask'. These and their answers lead us through bodily and emotional maturation, diet, exercise, personal appearance, drugs, sexuality, STDs and safe sex, contraception, pregnancy and parenthood, and help - how and where to get it.
Sound and responsible advice is given, but the endless belt of questions strikes me as utterly phoney and specially written to elicit' the desired answers. This would be fine if the questions were indexed, but the index refers so largely to 'answer' material that worried readers have no alternative to flipping through until they find their own question. And I think I detect an unhelpful American-ness in the question language; for instance Gillian C says, 'I'm interested in getting my nose fixed.' Why? Is it coming off? Sometimes, too, expression confuses: 'The condition (slipped capital femoral epiphysis) is not self-healing, it will simply go away in time' isn't all that helpful. That I can't warm to this book is a question of personal taste, but that's a great determinant in the success or failure of such a work, and one that varies from reader to reader. Two things strike me as certain - first, it does contain valuable and responsible advice for the body, and psyche, owner and, second, although the question and answer approach may be adopted to encourage the faint-hearted, much of the text is stern and turgid stuff and within the range of the most able or the most desperate only. I suspect that most of us would still prefer to rely on our best friend - genital warts and all.