*** Don't miss my giveaway here to win 2 copies of the book ! ***
You can't judge a book by its cover, which is just as well, because the minimalist, bland cover for The Art of Being A Brilliant Teenager by Andy Cope, Andy Whittaker, Darrell Woodman & Amy Bradley is pretty uninspiring. When I showed it to 13-year-old Sophie, she made a non-commital "hmmm" noise and shrugged.
Then she opened the book and turned to the contents page and had a much more enthusiastic reaction. Exit minimalist, bland and uninspiring, enter vibrant, visually appealing and eye-popping !
As it targets teens, who are often rather reluctant readers (or they just don't have the time, in amongst texting their mates, playing on the X-Box and updating their Facebook status!), rather than being made up of large chunks of text, it is interspersed with colourful illustrations and amusing inspirational quotes.
The tone is light-hearted and frequently irreverent, with a smattering of swearwords - nothing too bad, think along the lines of crap, effing, lazy buggers, arse and s**t (not sure why that last one is asterisked out when the others aren't !). It might offend a few parents (or grandparents, who may have bought the book as a "useful Christmas present" !) but trust me, I'm a teacher, the teens reading it won't even raise an eyebrow because they use these words, and many more that are much worse, as an integral part of their everyday vocabulary ! The book warns : "This book is as far removed from Shakespeare as you can get. Your English teacher will think this book is awful. At least, that's what we hope."
Sometimes, I thought the authors were trying just a little bit too hard to be matey and remove themselves from the "figure of authority" role, hanging with the teens they're trying to relate to. "We couldn't give a monkey's about you reading other books or whether you tidy your room. We are not your parents." This undoubtedly makes the book more appealing to their target audience though, who will feel like they're listening to a slightly older brother or streetwise friend, rather than a parent or teacher that they are more likely to be in conflict with.
I did have a few moments when I raised my eyebrows at a couple of comments that seemed slightly near-the-mark. For example, "Keep out of jail. (Not a good place. Nasty things happen in jail when you drop the soap.)" ! They did make me smirk too though, so I'm sure teens would find it hilarious (or, alternatively, it would go straight over their heads.)
Another paragraph takes the reader back to their earliest moments of existence, still in their mother's womb. "After 9 months of splashing about in amniotic fluid, you enter the world and someone slaps your arse. Nice one ! And that more or less sets the tone." For the rest of your life but also for the rest of the book !
But it's not all silliness and slightly rude words to make the readers laugh. The book does help put across some really good messages about feeling good about yourself and putting everything into life now to get the best future but also present possible. It's not at all preachy or condescending (as I think I have already shown !) and the little anecdotes and tongue-in-cheek case studies help readers to find their own way, realising by themselves the messages that the authors want to put across with just the slightest nudge in the right direction.
It's a motivational, feel-good read that targets teens but also has some nuggets of wisdom for nosy parents who may be sneaking a peek when the kids are in bed. (In case that's you, you might like to know that the authors have also released The Art of Being Brilliant and Be Brilliant Every Day for grown-ups.) Unlike many indigestible self-help books, it will have you racing through it, looking for the next nugget of wisdom or snigger-inducing joke, whichever comes first.
It would make a great stocking filler for teens and will undoubtedly be a lot more effective than hearing a parent constantly nagging about getting homework done, taking school more seriously or getting out of bed before lunchtime ! If you fancy getting yor mitts on one, don't go away - I have a giveaway coming right up where you can win two copies just in time for Christmas.
star rating : 4.5/5
RRP : £10.99
Disclosure : I received a review copy of the book.
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