So Embarrassing: Awkward Moments and How To Get Through Them

Workman. Nov. 2020. 128p. pap. $12.95. ISBN 9781523510177.
Gr 3-6–Featuring bouncy cartoon artwork, this good-natured work of graphic nonfiction employs a diverse cast of human characters (and a dog, who is embarrassed by nothing) to highlight the universality of this unavoidable emotion, describe different types of embarrassing incidents, explain why our bodies react the way they do to embarrassment, and offer helpful tips for dealing with these emotional and physical responses. Aside from a chapter on “Parents in Public,” the work mostly focuses on the ways we embarrass ourselves. A tan-skinned, pigtailed girl helps illustrate “The Rules for Falling in Public”; a light-skinned, curly-haired boy and two brown-skinned kids explore what to do when they spill liquid on their pants in “You Peed Your Pants…or Did You?” Supporting characters are more likely to dismiss a protagonist’s public fart with an explanation of the human digestive processes than they are to crack jokes or taunt the farter. While the onlookers’ generosity serves as a model of kind behavior in the face of other people’s embarrassment, it avoids exploring a major fear for readers in this age group—embarrassment caused or compounded by other kids. Additionally, the chapter on blushing offers explanations for why people blush and techniques for how to calm a blush, but seems determined to make a virtue out of an involuntary physical reaction that is more noticeable in some people than others: “You can trust the ones who blush.”
VERDICT An endearing exploration of emotional and physical reactions to embarrassment that may fail to fully address the experiences and concerns of young readers.

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