Book review by
Andrea Beach, Common Sense Media
Selp-Helf Book Poster Image
Funny YouTube advice satire has some edgy sexual references.

Parents say

age 18+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 3 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Silly satire of self-help, beauty, and fashion websites is meant to entertain.

Positive Messages

Negative examples using satire, irony, and comic exaggeration point out the frivolous, ridiculous, and unrealistic "advice" available on so many YouTube channels about health, beauty, finances, romance, fashion, and more.

Positive Role Models & Representations

By negative example (misusing or mispronouncing words, exaggerated and poorly applied makeup), Miranda shows that you don't have to be perfect to be proud of yourself, happy with who you are, and unafraid to sing loudly and dance badly in the name of comedy.


Some real hate mail Miranda has received is reprinted and includes violent threats such as "knock you out and smash your face." Blood mentioned once as something to be feared when wiping. Facetious tips include using toothpicks to clean ears, using Q-tips as matches, and taking an insect's wings as something nice you can do for yourself. QR codes link directly to videos, one of which demonstrates opening a soda can by hacking it in half with a sharp kitchen knife, then drinking from one of the halves.


Brief mention of porn, genital warts, and tampons. A picture of a sanitary pad and a tampon advises that tampons are for sinners. A drawing labeled "being born" shows a doctor standing between splayed legs. A couple of references to "massage boss" as a possible job task. Fully clothed adults demonstrate "cuddle positions" in photographs, one of which is 69 and another of which is "the uncle" and shows a man lying on top of a woman face to face. Tickles from an uncle are compared to slaps, kisses, and strokes from your "bae." A QR code links to a video of Miranda demonstrating twerking in which she does a goofy dance with little actual resemblance to twerking.


"Slut," "hell," "pee." Some potty humor. Stereotyped examples of how to ask for food in several languages.


Readers encouraged to buy extra copies of the book. A half-dozen or so QR codes link web pages with ads that have special Miranda videos made for the book. Readers who haven't seen her YouTube channel may want to do so after seeing the videos. A photo of Tic Tacs with the label altered slightly. A QR code links to a video featuring a Coke can. Watching more Miranda videos is the secret to happiness.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

How-to-make-drugs (non-narcotic home remedies) section mentions that Tic Tacs look like pills.

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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
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Kid, 12 years old March 4, 2018
Teen, 13 years old Written byBlurr March 23, 2017

Very funny

But a bit mature

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?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love coming-of-age novels and dating stories

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