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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Selp-Helf is not a typo but a satire of the juggernaut that is advice and how-to videos on YouTube. Miranda Sings is the online persona of actress/comedian Colleen Ballinger, and her "Miranda Sings" YouTube channel garners millions of views spoofing the beauty, fashion, self-help, and DIY videos now ubiquitous on social media. She deliberately misuses, mispronounces, and misspells words for comic effect, and to demonstrate Miranda's chutzpah, she fearlessly presses on, certain that she's right about everything. Best for teens and up who are already "Mirfandas" and who understand and recognize satire, irony (the literary kind), and comic exaggeration (she's not really suggesting you open a can of soda by hacking at it with a kitchen knife). Most of the content is OK for middle schoolers, but brief references to porn, sexual positions, and an uncle's inappropriate touching make it better for high schoolers. The book may seem ridiculous at first glance, but mature, media-savvy teens can absorb positive messages about the absurdity of how self-help and self-esteem videos make things look so easy, and readers may even laugh at themselves and find a sense of community in realizing they're not the only ones who recognize social media's often-unrealistic expectations.
What's the story?
Through satire, irony, and comic exaggeration, actress/comedian Colleen Ballinger's YouTube persona Miranda Sings points out the inanity, frivolity, and downright ridiculously unrealistic "advice" that seems to be everywhere on social media. SELP-HELF topics include health and beauty, fashion, career, romance, finances, and more.
Is it any good?
Fans of her Miranda Sings YouTube channel will love this colorfully absurd satire of the self-help industry. Those who don't already know Miranda may find themselves scratching their heads over the child-like font, photo collages that look like poor cutouts badly taped together, and misuse -- especially with spelling -- of words. Older teens can be encouraged to think about how Colleen Ballinger, the actress and comedian who created the Miranda persona, uses satire, irony, and exaggeration and how those techniques affect the real message conveyed.
Miranda’s kind of an unpleasant character, and her appearance is deliberately off-putting. What looks at first glance like an exercise in self-aggrandizement effectively points out, when taken as a whole, the overabundance and lack of reality in the how-to, DIY, life-hacks, fashion/beauty, career, and romance advice so pervasive on social media.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why Miranda Sings is, or isn't, funny. Did you know she's a fictional persona? Why do you think the actress invented a character like Miranda?
Have you ever tried to follow self-help or DIY videos or books? Did it work like you expected? Did anything go wrong?
Did you use any of the QR codes to see special videos for the book? Why do you think those codes are in there? Did you go right back to the book, or did you end up online for a while after viewing the videos?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.