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Richie's Picks: THE GUY BOOK: AN OWNER'S  MANUAL by Mavis Jukes, Crown 
Publishers, 2002.
I did, in fact, know from a young age that "scrotum" was  the name of that 
particular part of my body.  But I had absolutely no  understanding of the 
startling, unnerving things that began happening to my body  while I was in middle 
school.  Despite spending hours and  hours of quality time with my father, 
regularly working alongside him on  his construction sites from a very young age, 
I was never given "The  Talk."
Nor did I have a big brother or sister to guide me  through an understanding 
of the physical changes, the intense feelings, or  the perplexing social stuff 
at school.  It was all totally baffling.   The result was that throughout 
middle school I was a great student and a nervous  wreck; a quiet kid filled with 
discomfort and uncertainty.  It was bad  enough to be picked on and called 
names without already thinking that the  weird things I'd been experiencing were 
certain proof that there  must be something wrong with me. 
Unfortunately for me and my contemporaries, Mavis Jukes  was still a high 
school student when I was struggling hormonally,  emotionally, and socially in 
seventh and eighth grades.  Fortunately  for today's middle school students, 
Mavis grew up and eventually  became an author.  Thanks to her having written 
years later  by THE GUY BOOK: AN OWNER'S MANUAL, today's Twenty-First Century  
middle school students can avoid being caught in the sort of position in  which I 
found myself.
Today there are serious, potentially life-threatening  consequences to 
traversing middle school while hamstrung by the  ignorance with which I traversed 
four decades ago.  Mavis Jukes not  only explains the workings of the body 
and the changes that adolescents are  undergoing physically, but also talks 
about dangerous behaviors and myths that  can kill and provides information about 
the availability of counseling for those  having a bad time of things.
But in addition to the obvious need to  understand such weighty topics as 
sexually transmitted diseases and  pregnancy, and the absolute need to understand 
that "'No' Never Means 'Yes,'" it  is also essential that middle school 
students going through these  developmental changes avoid having their self-esteem 
undermined  by a lack of information, a problem that is so easily remedied by 
this  book. 
As noted on the KidsKeepHealthy website: 
"Adolescents with high self-esteem are more likely to believe  in themselves 
and have a sense of importance and self-respect. Self-esteem  affects how your 
children will approach new tasks or challenges and how they  interact with 
others. Teenage children with low self-esteem may avoid  challenging activities 
or may give up quickly, quit, or cheat when things aren't  going their way. A 
child with low self esteem may also be a bully, bossy,  controlling, have a 
low level of self control, and have difficulty making  friends."
THE GUY BOOK: AN OWNER'S MANUAL is not only an important  source of 
information, it is an entertaining read.  Beginning with the  cover image and 
continuing throughout the book, the  author employs an automotive metaphoric 
with vintage car photos  and title headings such as "Under the Hood," 
"Ignition System," "Rules of the  Road: Driver Etiquette," and "Customizing: 
Developing Your Own Style."  In  the book's sixteen chapters there is a wealth of 
information on such practical  topics as shaving, pimples, the rights and wrongs of 
ogling girls, the  inside scoop on what their female peers are feeling, on 
crushes, on who  pays when out on a date, on meeting a girl's parents, and on 
how to slow dance  for the first time.  Some of the information is downright 
hilarious -- at  least in retrospect -- such as the author's explanation of which 
 strategies employed in hopes of getting noticed by girls might result in 
your  being seen by them in a positive light, and which strategies are bound to 
have  quite the opposite effect.  Some of the information is just  so amazingly 
important, such as her discussion  of feelings:
"Both boys and girls (and men and women) feel all ways: strong  and weak, 
powerful and vulnerable, confident and insecure, courageous and  afraid.  
"These are human feelings.  They're not attached to a  particular gender."
In light of the recent  debate concerning some librarians who are excluding 
the  Newbery Medal-winning THE HIGHER POWER OF LUCKY from their school library  
collections because of the mere inclusion of an anatomical term -- dog's  
scrotum -- it can be expected that there is a similar group of  librarians 
opposed to the inclusion of THE GUY BOOK in middle school  collections.  This, of 
course, puts those librarians' middle school  patrons at risk.  Considering that 
every year, in every corner  of America, there are middle school students who 
become sexually  active prior to high school, thus facing the possibility of 
their causing a  pregnancy or contracting AIDS during their initial sexual 
explorations,  librarian-imposed ignorance is surely a matter of malpractice that 
borders  on the criminal.
It is hard to imagine a girl today experiencing  her first period and having 
nobody willing to provide her information  on why this new thing is happening 
to her body or, perhaps, suggesting   that she wait until high school before 
obtaining accurate information from her  school's library media center.  For a 
boy to experience his  first nocturnal emission without having either prior or 
 subsequent information as to what is going on can be no less  traumatic then 
was Brat's ignorance upon experiencing her first menstrual  cycle in THE 
The original intent of having public education in  America was to turn kids 
into good citizens.  This is a book with  information that unquestionably 
contributes to that goal.  If Mavis  Jukes' books for girls and guys are not in 
your middle school collections,   they need to be.  And to try and bury such 
important resources in the  shelves, rather than booktalking them and displaying 
them is a serious  mistake.
Richie  Partington
Student, SJSU  SLIS
Richie's Picks

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