Newman, Catherine. How to Be a Person: 65 Hugely Useful, Super-Important Skills to Learn Before You’re Grown Up. Debbie Fong, Illus. Non-fiction. Storey, 05/2020. 160pp. PB $16.95. 978-1-63586-182-2. OUTSTANDING. GRADES 3-6.
In the wryly funny and kind voice of a much older sister or favorite aunt, Newman explains how to do all sorts of useful things from contacting your political representatives to plunging a clogged toilet. Sturdy line drawings of a diverse cast of kids and adults illustrate skills such as “How to Include Someone” or “How to Answer the Phone.” The design and content play with the conventions of how-to manuals and self-help magazine articles: there are regular pop quizzes with entertainingly silly answers, illustrations of the “WRONG” and “RIGHT” way to do things, “Fun Facts” and bonus tips such as “How to Fold a Fitted Sheet: Just kidding. Go ahead and wad it up like a normal person.” There is no index, but there is a table of contents, and the accent color in the two-color art changes with each chapter. Adult readers may have quibbles about a few of her directions; for example, there are arguably better, safer ways to chop an onion or boil eggs, and Californians will be dismayed that she advises putting non-rechargeable batteries “in the trash,” even if that is allowed in other states. Overall, the attractive design and humorous style make this handbook a fun, useful, and confidence-boosting resource.
Jennifer Vetter, Emerson School