Archive for Book Reviews

Book written by Annie Fox, M.Ed

Book reviewed by Jane Balvanz, MSE, RPT

When I received my copy of Real Friends vs. The Other Kind from Annie Fox’s Middle School Confidential series, I knew I had my hands on a school counselor’s dream.  There are BIG things in this small package!  This is a book that would have had a place under my pillow during my junior high days.  That’s where I would have kept it, so I could read and reread it – especially during those sleepless nights spent over friendship angst.  This book speaks to kids.

Built around the interactions of six middle school friends, Real Friends vs. The Other Kind takes you through their daily interactions and the real life experiences ‘tweens and teens face.  Kids will enjoy the comic book-like story and illustrations interwoven with advice following each segment. This is a sneaky-brilliant way to put together TONS of information for kids.  A real bonus is that it’s “reluctant reader friendly.”  It will appeal to bookworms as well as kids who blanch at the sight of a thick book.

Intermingled within 90 pages of a book one quarter of an inch thick and easily held in one hand, here’s a list of some of the rich content:

  • Real input from real kids
  • Six qualities of a real friend
  • How to evaluate the friendship network you have
  • Other helpful books to read.
  • Identifying when you weren’t a good friend
  • Avoiding Social Garbage
  • Friendship Quizzes
  • Tips for Getting the Treatment You Deserve
  • Helpful websites

I’ve just revealed less than 10% of the contents packed into those 90 pages!  Parents and teachers will also love Real Friends vs. The Other Kind.  Use it in the classroom for whole group discussions or at home for parent and t(w)een talks. For kids who are not “into” parental discussions, just leave copy in their bedroom.  A final note to school counselors – I find this book an excellent resource for running small groups for kids with friendship problems and assertiveness issues.

A Way Through, LLC gives our Must Read Seal of Excellence to Middle School Confidential™: Real Friends vs. The Other Kind by Annie Fox for it’s appeal to t(w)eens, multiple uses, and addressing friendship information kids really need to know and learn.  Recommended for t(w)eens, school counselors, middle school teachers and principals, parents, therapists, social workers, and anyone who loves a t(w)een.

You can find this book and others by Annie Fox at Free Spirit Publishing

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Winner of the 2009 Good Parenting Seal

The Birth to Five Book: Confident Childrearing Right from the Start
by Brenda Nixon Reviewed by Jane Balvanz, MSE, RPT

Imagine having the right baby gift for expectant parents every time.   Imagine giving a gift so utterly useful, the newborn benefits immediately and forever.  Imagine new parents having a such a life-changing, powerful experience from your gift, they share their knowledge with other parents.  Imagine giving new parents or yourself  The Birth to Five Book by Brenda Nixon.

Reading this book is somewhat like being guided through the first years of parenthood by a wise aunt or knowledgeable big sister.  It feels as if Brenda is right there with you holding your hand and saying, “Now, now, dear.  This is normal.  You’re doing fine.”  If The Birth to Five Book had been written when my own children were born, I would have felt much less parenting anxiety.  That, in itself, is worth the price of gold!  (See page 66 – Ten Tips for Stress-less Parenting)

The book is divided into four chapters: Parenting Your Infant,  Parenting Your Toddler, Parenting Your Preschooler, and Parenting Anytime.  Each section addresses basic issues parents have about childrearing in early childhood. Brenda’s answers are written straightforwardly in a conversational tone, so parents can get right to the nitty-gritty.  After all, who has time to peruse medical books or thesauruses when your children are ages five and younger?

What is impressive about The Birth to Five Book is its range of  childhood and parenting topics.  One can read about the basics such as mother’s milk, starting solid foods, biting, toilet training, and bad dreams.  Brenda goes much farther than this, though.  She intermingles milestone markers, early education, and character education. One can learn about growing a reader, traits of toddlers, raising responsible kids, and kindergarten readiness.

Research informs us early childhood is vitally important to a child’s self-esteem, sense of well-being, and learning.  The Birth to Five Book addresses the topics essential to giving a child good foundational footing.  The bonus?  All of this information comes in a book you can easily hold in one hand while holding a baby on your shoulder with a toddler seated in your lap!

Brenda Nixon is a well-known parenting expert and speaker.  You can find out more about her at or on Twitter via @BrendaNixon.  Brenda is parent-friendly.  She routinely shares her knowledge via her radio show, The Parent’s Plate.

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“Google Bomb”

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We love books!  In this section you will find books we like that add to the knowledge base of relational aggression or emotional bullying.  Our book reviews include the genres of bullying, child development, girls and women, empowerment, and brain research.  Let us know if you have a book you’ve written or read that you’d like to recommend.

Google Bomb BookGoogle Bomb by John W Dozier Jr. and Sue Scheff

Reviewed by Jane Balvanz

We all know the drill the flight attendant gives before the plane takes off.  “Ladies and gentleman, please note the compartment above where the oxygen masks are stored.  In case of an emergency, they will drop down.  Please put your oxygen mask on first before assisting children or others.”  We know why.  If you can’t protect yourself first, you can’t help anyone else.

The Google Bomb book is a metaphoric oxygen mask. If we want to protect our kids from cyber bullying, we need to know what can happen to adults on the Internet.  While it’s a wonderful place to communicate, conduct business, and access information, the Internet is also a virtual place with cyber land mines. You can’t navigate around them if you don’t know they exist.

A line from the book made me sit up and take notice: “Parents, if you cannot use and understand the technology your kids are using, then don’t allow them to use it. Period.”  This wasn’t a call for parents to shut off their kids’ computers, cell phones, or ban them from technological advances.  It was a call for parents to know as much as their children about technology, because what you don’t know about the Internet can hurt you….and your family.

This brings to mind one of my friends.  She’s a successful business owner, financially astute, and her business is not Internet dependent.  In fact, she’s so successful she doesn’t even have to advertise.  She’s savvy, but she doesn’t know how to navigate on a computer let alone access the Internet.  Her children know more about this technology than she does.  They are six and seven. 

Now to the matter of why the Google Bomb book exists.  Sue Scheff, renowned and respected child and parent advocate and founder of Parents Universal Resource Experts (P.U.R.E.), became the target of unfathomable Internet defamation.  She was hit by a Google Bomb.  Because of false, defamatory material written about her on the Internet, she became a magnet for serious cyber stalkers and their followers.  For a while, Sue’s life was not her own.  Her story reads like the horrifying cyber nightmare you never want to experience and a “how to” in case you do.
Though reeling from cyber abuse, Sue refused to become a victim.  She took measures to address the damage done.  Lucky for us, John Dozier, Jr. and Sue chose to write this book.  We benefit because Google Bomb teaches us ways to protect ourselves and our families from Internet abuse.  One invaluable section, Top Ten Steps You Can Take to Protect Yourself Online, outlines how to take action immediately.  The steps are preventative – think oxygen mask vs. domino effect.  When your reputation is attacked online, the following can fall, one after the other: others’ trust in you, your job performance, your business, your area of expertise, your self-esteem, chances for advancement, and maybe your job.  Your children may be teased or shunned because of it, and the result can be on beyond devastating.  Just ask Sue.

In the end, Sue won an $11.3M lawsuit against her cyber stalker.  The road was long and painful.  The verdict was a landmark decision that changed the way we use the Internet.  As you seek to guide and protect your children regarding Internet usage, seek to protect yourself as well.  Put your own oxygen mask on first.

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Untitled Document When Girls Hurt Girls™ Parent Pack

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