SO EMBARASSING: Awkward Moments and How to Get Through Them by Charise Mericle Harper, 128 pp, RL 3

 

SO EMBARASSING
Awkward Moments and How to Get Through Them
Review Copy from Workman Publishing
Having worked with kids aged five through twelve, it is fascinating to observe how their experience with embarrassment changes as they age up. As first graders, there is rarely embarrassment experienced by the student who audibly farts during story time versus the sixth grader in the same setting. As Harper wisely states in her note from the author that kicks off her book, "Embarrassment is a feeling that comes from you! It's something that you usually do to yourself." She goes on to say that embarrassment is complicated, which is why she made this book, reminding readers that, "If nothing embarrasses you, YOU CAN DO ANYTHING!" Harper works to present a few of the many experiences that can cause embarrassment, starting with "Falling in Public," (and moving on to "Look! A Social Oops," "It's On You and It Shouldn't Be," "Blushing," and "You Did It Wrong," to name a few) and breaking them down to the point that the painful, awkward, embarrassing feelings  are diffused. She also give tips on what to do, think and feel in these moments, including true facts that give weight to her words.

Illustrating awkward moments, Harper shows readers how to respond when they are having a moment or observing a moment. When someone takes a fall and is embarrassed, she shows readers how to tell if they are physically injured and/or if their feelings are hurt. Sometimes her advice borders on silly (or is it smart?) like when she advises readers who spill on their pants, making it look like they peed their pants, to add wet spots all around... The chapter on blushing was especially interesting - True Fact: you can't fake blushing! - and the actions to take to control a blush are easy to do and truly helpful. 

For the most part, examples of embarrassment in SO EMBARRASSING are varied and many, letting readers know that awkward moments happen everywhere at anytime. Breaking them down, especially in graphic novel format, goes a long way to assuring readers that, as Harper said at the start of the book, you can control what you experience as embarrassing. To further support this, Harper brings Grace Y. Lin, licensed health counselor, to the page in the form of a "clever, helpful hippo (her animal of choice)." Lin breaks down the experience of embarrassment, saying it is like a bully in your brain, tricking you into thinking you have done something awful. She then gives readers tools to stop the bully, even teaching readers how to apologize without explanation.

SO EMBARRASSING is definitely a book kids will read and also a book that will generate many important conversations about recognizing and coping with difficult emotions.

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