Thursday, January 28, 2010

Miss Behavior by Bernice Bryant (1948)

I cam across this little book in a used book store called Chipola River Book and Tea. It's one of those old-fashioned beauty guides out to tell you the secrets of "poise, beauty, and charm," in this case for the teenage girl. It's an amusing read, sometimes informative, a bit inspiring, and kind of funny.

It has one big, irritating fault. It is obvious from the title. Can you guess? It's the puns. Lord, the puns are enough to drive the most sane person absolutely out of their head! The whole book is full of examples about "Bob" and "Sue" and all that sort of thing, and the chapter where Ginger gives all her friends clothing advice...well, I never knew it was possible to snap good-naturedly. Because that's what Ginger does. If she has something to say, she snaps. Every. Single. Time. Then the chapter about being a "nice girl" has to be called "Vice, Vice, Versa."  Even the characters laugh at their own puns. And oddly, Ms. Bryant suggests to her teen readers not to overuse slang.

In terms of advice, this book is the same as most of the other books on the subject, without much new information. My favorite chapter is the one about making over clothes because it gives some interesting, unique examples, not the usual stuff. But this book certainly has one distinctive feature. In spite of being rather sexist, it is decidedly not racist. In fact, it states that all people are equal regardless of race or ethnicity. Quite a refreshing thing to hear from such an old book.

Rating: 7/10


Clarity said...

This sounds like a fun book.

Re. others, I've never come across a racist charm book, almost a contradiction in terms.

Anonymous said...

I read this book as a teen in the 70's and had hours of enjoyment out of it! That snappy language!

Now my daughter and I read it aloud to eachother with much laughter. Just last night my 15 year old was commenting that the chapter quizzes are actually quite soul searching.

I wish it would be reissued!