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Cycle Savvy Paperback – 1 October 2006
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About the Author
Toni Weschler, MPH, has a master's degree in public health and is a nationally respected women's health educator and speaker. She is also the author of Cycle Savvy, a book for teenage girls about their bodies. A frequent guest on television and radio shows, she lives in Seattle, Washington.
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Top international reviews
As far as it's possible for me, as a mum in her 40s, to judge, the book takes a suitable tone that would keep a teen girl interested without "trying too hard". There are quizzes and puzzles at the end of chapters to help consolidate the information and quotes and comments from women sharing their personal experiences. In the back there's a good glossary and various appendices to provide at-a-glance summaries of topics covered in more detail in the book.
I especially liked the emphasis on taking advice from older women and drawing on their experiences, and the encouragement to talk to your mum ("you may just realise that she's actually pretty cool!"). For me, the main negative is that some of the illustrations and diagrams are quite hard to understand because they are all in black and white and are obviously meant to have more colour - some of them even refer to the different colours used when in fact they are all just differing shades of grey! I don't know if there was another full-colour edition at some point but this is a bit of a problem. A more minor down-side is that the book is clearly aimed at American readers and includes many references to things that girls in the UK won't be familiar with, from a brand of pain relief to school grades (meant to give an idea of age), US organisations, money and helplines, as well as different spellings (eg oestrogen spelt estrogen).
In general, however, this book will be a really helpful resource for families with girls (and for boys to learn more about how female fertility works), and I'm pleased to have it for my daughters to read, as it's more accessible than TCOYF for teen girls. Parents should be aware that there is quite a lengthy chapter on sex towards the end which includes advice on making sure you're ready and raises the issues of unplanned pregnancy and STIs. You might want to check how the information corresponds with any views you have on the subject from a moral/religious/etc perspective so you can discuss this chapter with your children in that context.
Whilst I agree with the previous reviewer that girls need to be well-informed on the topic of puberty well in advance, I would probably not use this book as an introduction. Weschler states in her "note to moms" section that the book is aimed at girls aged 14-18 and she anticipates her readership will mostly have started their periods, so therefore doesn't go into the basics of what to expect. Instead she talks more about the "why?" behind the whole thing (which information obviously might be useful to a younger girl too but this is couched in terms of already having had the experience). Having read through the whole book, I'll definitely share it with my teenage daughter but leave it a bit longer for the pre-teen.
It's a brilliant book for boys. So if you have boys in the house and no girls, I'd buy one too and leave it around where it can be read. Boys need to know this stuff too. Boys need to know what a real female human being looks like, when they are fertile and when they are not.
I think it's a great book for kicking off discussions about all the options a young girl has to deal with her menstrual flow. Whether or not they want to try disposable products or reusable ones. Whether they want to try knickers that take the flow, or try pads or tampons or go straight to a moon cup. Having this book, and those discussions, long before the event of the first menses will make for a much happier, more confident teens. And more relaxed parents!
I bought Taking Charge of Your Fertility before I bought this one for my younger sister. I was astounded with all the information about my body that no one ever bothered telling me. Why weren't we taught this in Health class, or why didn't I find all this out from my Mom or Sister at least!?!? I then realized that they were all ignorant of this information. How could they teach me when they were Ignorant of it in the first place. I wished someone had been knowledgeable enough to hand me Cycle Savvy when I was in Highschool. It would have saved me a lot of confusion and self loathing when all those bodily changes where taking place. I decided to start informing the people around me of this awesome info. I told my friends, mom, and older sister about Taking Charge of Your Fertility, but then I came to a problem when I thought of my 13 year old sister and I knew she needed this information the most. I knew she would get overwhelmed by such a big book and she didn't need to know about achieving pregnancy and menopause. I was so happy to find Cycle Savvy! It allowed me to be a better role model and provide my little sister with the information about her body that she deserves to know.
Let's choose knowledge for our teens over ignorance.