Monday, December 5, 2011

How to Survive Anything: Shark Attack, Lightning, Embarrassing Parents, Pop Quizzes and Other Perilous Situations by Rachel Buchholz and Illustrated by Chris Philpot

Face it! Sometimes, no matter what you do, no matter what you say, no matter how much effort and time you put into that yearlong project, your assignment partner, that pesky girl you did not want to know at the beginning of the year who ended up being your best friend in the world, just turned her back on you after you have failed to deliver the speech your grade was hanging on! You freeze, you stop breathing, and you choke on your sobs. What do you do? What do you do? Well, look no further than a book packed with much needed advice for this type of situations.

A 2012 Quick Pick Nominee for Reluctant Readers in the nonfiction category, How to Survive Anything by Rachel Buchholz with illustrations by Chris Philpot and published by the National Geographic is a must have guide for anyone trying to survive the middle school years. Packed with fun but serious facts, the book is a humorous survival guide to help the youngest of the adults navigate the scariest years of their lives. Divided into thirty one easy to read chapters accompanied by brightly colored and often funny illustrations, How to Survive Anything is a self-help book combining advice that would help anyone acquire both survival skills as well as life skills. Not only Buchholz reveals how to survive chance encounters with a volcanic eruption, a tornado, a shark attack, a hurricane, or falling through ice, but she also delves into circumstances that are more common and scarier for today’s middle school grader, from how to survive embarrassing moments to how to survive a mean teacher, cyberbullying, or stressing out. Both sets of chapters are peppered with sound advice and fun filled factoids that explain little known phenomena or myths that have been debunked. Who knew that in the case of lightning, the intense heat emanated causes the surrounding air to expand very fast, and when it does, it creates the noise we call thunder? The explanation about how lightning is generated is both factual and also relatable to young audiences. The theory behind lightning formation becomes a metaphor for the greatest love story of all times: Romeo and Juliet. With Romeo representing the larger particles (within a cloud) that become negatively charged, and Juliet representing the smaller particles positively charged, the attraction or electrical potential becomes too strong for the aforementioned particles to stay separated any longer. When they cannot keep apart anymore, they charge towards each other and the attraction becomes literally electric. All the pent up electricity is released as lightning. 

Aside from enlightening the young adult reluctant reader on earthquakes, avalanches, snakebites, or wildfires, Buchholz alternates these chapters with advice on how to survive the daily grind of middle school. Packed with plenty of advice, the author reveals how to deal and minimize the damage of stressing out by taking the reader through a step by step method on how to take control of the situation before it gets out of hand. From making a to-do list and keeping a calendar to breaking big projects into little chunks, or even cleaning one’s room, Buchholz reveals that it is all about prioritizing and organizing, not only your time but also your space. The conversational tone of the book makes it an easy, breezy and fun read. The photos and illustrations on each page make it appealing as they draw in any reluctant reader. It would be a great addition to any social studies class in middle school. Anyone from grades 5 to 9 would find the easy to follow tips and humorous illustrations a compelling and fun read. So, if you want to find out how to survive your embarrassing parents, a fight with your best friend, or being the new kid on the block, alongside tornadoes, hurricanes and blizzards, this is the book for you!

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