Brimming with honesty, heart and Jenn's patented sense of humour, it features top 10 lists, photos, screenshots, social media posts and never-before-posted stories chronicling Jenn's journey from an anxious middle-schooler just trying to fit in, to a YouTube sensation unafraid to stand out.
My two daughters have been recording their own Youtube videos for just under a year. They let me edit them (thank goodness) and then we upload them for our 18 subscribers. Recently I had been online trying to find articles and books that might best help me and them, decide where to go with this channel of theirs. We are still heavily in learning mode and we have a long long way to go.
I was therefore thrilled to get my hands onto a copy of this book. I had never seen a Jennxpenn video before, but I had heard of her. We watch a lot of Youtubers at home. In fact we never watch broadcast television. I started reading this book for hints and tips and I definitely got heaps of those. I loved that she talks about collabs and how to go about getting yourself in one. I had no idea about online auditions and things and yet after reading that section I went and did some research and found absolutely heaps!
I loved that she has advice for lighting, because that is something I know we struggle with. I have watched lots of videos and read lots about lighting, but there was practical stuff in this book about how to light as well as mention of a lighting product Jenn uses. That was super helpful to me, because I didn't even know where to start looking. Now I have enough information to know what I want to buy.
I took on board much of the "internet can be bad" stories as well. Things that would never have occurred to me, Jenn lists out and gives excellent and deep insight into. How having a channel may affect your school time and friendships, was something that I didn't really consider. Now I'm more aware of the bad things that could happen even if the channel stayed nice and small, and what to do. Aside from advice on Youtube and having a channel, there's excellent advice for just living and doing life. Many of the Top 10 lists are things I'd happily tape onto my daughters' doors so they know what is really important.
The book dimensions were a bit big to easily manage as I was reading it in my lap, and the margin spacing was a bit weird for a book. There was barely any space at the sides of page, but everything was double spaced. So it was okay to read, but sometimes I had to press the page in slightly to see the words near the binding. Still, I thought that the size of the book and the layout was innovative, which made it stand out for me too.
This is one I will be re-reading in the future as we start to pull our equipment together and learn more about making better quality videos. I'm also looking forward to sharing some of the information with my kids as and when needed. I'm sure it will come in really helpful, as they grow up and get out of primary school especially.
This is a book that is designed for two different audiences. One is the group of young people that are fans of Jenn McAllister's Youtube videos and her movie career, and the other is the combined numbers of any people who are interested in reading a success story which is both funny and inspiring. On the surface, the book is a biography which traces Jenn's personal journey from primary school years through to adulthood. On another level, however, it is about success and having the determination to push yourself until you get to your goal.
Before I started reading the book I had never heard of Jenn McAllister, so I was under the impression that I was going to read a rather cleverly crafted work of fiction. During the first few chapters, I was impressed by the "top ten" lists, photographs, personal anecdotes, and web- and movie-based references, which were so convincing they could actually be true. Then it clicked. They WERE true - this was a real story about a real person!
Once I had come to that conclusion, I started reading the book again, and this time I stopped to look up some of the internet sites mentioned. In particular, I checked out a few of the YouTube videos she had made. Doing that meant that the book was more meaningful for me, and some of the references I had been puzzled about (like references to VidCon1 and Smosh) now made sense. You don't have to access the internet sites to be able to enjoy the book, but for me it was useful to do that.
Jenn's writing style reminds me of a dramatic monologue rather than a formal written account. The language she uses is conversational, incorporating lots of slang expressions and intimate observations, so that the reader gets the impression that he or she is being told things at a very personal level. The inclusion of the handwritten notes and more informal pictures reinforces this intimacy. This is not necessarily a bad thing, and I think it is a real strength when she is giving advice about being yourself and reaching for what you really want. Young people are far more likely to take notice of someone on their own wavelength.
I did find that I could not read this book in one go. It was physically challenging to read it as the quasi-magazine style meant that I was constantly flicking back and forth to follow up the top ten list and photo captions after I finished each chapter. The wider page layout, too, meant that I did not read as fast as I usually do because the text was not easy to follow without scanning from one side to another. However, I managed to get over that by treating the book exactly as I would a proper magazine and taking it out whenever I had an odd five or ten minutes during the day.
In conclusion, I don't think this book is for everyone. But in terms of motivational talk and sound advice, it is a useful addition to any teenager's bookshelf. Too many young people are afraid of being a tall poppy. Jenn's advice is to stay true to yourself, keep trying, and don't turn yourself into something you are not. I would support that 100%!
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"Character - the willingness to accept responsibility for one's own life - is the source from which self respect springs."
Joan Didion (1934 - ), 'Slouching Towards Bethlehem'