“The principles laid out in Ignite Your Spark will help teens discover their unique path and grow into adults of character, confidence, and substance."
– Josh Shipp, founder of Kids These Days and author of The Teen's Guide to World Domination
Wooster offers teens too shy or scared to be themselves the stories of others who have embraced their true selves.In peppy prose, the author exhorts teens: instead of following the crowd, focus on "discovering and becoming the person you want to be"—aka igniting your spark. Chapters not only provide suggestions for igniting readers' sparks in school, hobbies and activities, and relationships, but how to face failures and boost willpower. The text is peppered with spark igniters and extinguishers, role-plays, quizzes, and examples of all kinds of success stories. It's a bit cluttered and doesn't have a lot of flow, but the information contained is solid. Perhaps there's too much emphasis on not being one of many—what about teens who are authentically interested in doing the same as most of their peers?—yet the positive, cheerleading tone will certainly reassure any teens who are scared of being "different." The teen success stories are drawn from all fields, from science to art, business to philanthropy. The section on toxic friendship is particularly valuable. A solid resource for teens seeking advice on planning their futures. (notes, further resources) (Nonfiction. 12-14)
– Kirkus Reviews, 10/1/16
The teen years are often perceived as an angst-ridden and turbulent period of human development, but Wooster asserts that adolescence can also be a time of empowerment and self-discovery. The book centers on the idea of a “spark,” which represents the things that every individual finds inspiring. Common thoughts and behaviors are divided squarely into two camps: those that fan the flames of success and those that extinguish them. Elaborations on the major aspects of the teen years are all included—romantic and platonic relationships, self-image, schoolwork, goal setting, and careers. Interviews with real people and quizzes of self-discovery guide Wooster’s narrative. Readers are challenged not only to change their outlook and think more positively but also to create practical action plans for personal success, with relatable examples and suggestions. The central idea is that young people don’t have to wait for adulthood to find the things that encourage and inspire them.
— Erin Anderson
– Booklist, November 1, 2016
Adolescence is often rife with sticky relationships, worries about the future, and general confusion. Wooster attempts to alleviate some of that turmoil in this work that encourages teenagers to think about how their present interests and talents can inspire a life filled with meaningful pursuits. Using a familiar structure, each chapter discusses how teens might revitalize their relationships, activities, dreams, failures, and more. First, a scenario introduces the topic, followed by a general discussion. Next, a short quiz offers readers the chance to assess where they might stand regarding the quality of their relationships or attitudes toward school. Included are interviews with “Illuminators” (some are well-known figures, while others are professional experts or teens themselves) who discovered their passions and went on to notable success. The author continues with helpful advice on changing negative or problematic situations. While the book can be read cover to cover, it might be more appreciated by teens concerned with a particular issue addressed in the relevant chapters. Otherwise the material can become repetitive and formulaic. VERDICT Librarians who need to spruce up their teen bibliotherapy sections with newer, updated titles might find this a worthy addition to their collections.
– School Library Journal, November 2016
“Wouldn’t it be great if you woke up every morning excited and energized because your days were filled with a purpose?” That’s the question Wooster (So, You Want to Be a Leader?) poses at the outset of this wide-ranging guide that aims to encourage teens to cultivate their passions. Chapters devoted to friendships, relationships, habits, failures, and other topics include a mix of reader-directed quizzes, scenarios featuring fictional teens, and interviews with a real-life adult and teen “illuminators” including author Beth Reekles, filmmaker Lee Hirsch, and a variety of young entrepreneurs. Throughout, Wooster offers a mix of aphoristic suggestions for how readers can stay on track (“Leave your comfort zone behind”) and concrete goals and actions they can take to foster their interests and skills. Ages 12–up.
– Publishers Weekly, January 2, 2017
Inside every young person there is an inner spark that sets him or her apart from the world. There is no need to find a niche in a clique; the most important thing is to embrace the ability to stand out. Wooster’s book intends to help adolescents discover their true identities. Throughout the text, she has rocket and fire extinguisher icons that stand for things that can ignite an inner spark and things that can put it out. She begins with a brief retelling of her life story and explains how she finally realized her identity and discovered her purpose. Her purpose aligns every area of her life. Each chapter focuses on different levels of self-image. What makes this book stand out is Wooster’s interviews with a diverse group of people from different walks of life. The interview questions relate to the topic and add to the book’s cohesiveness and overall appeal.
Quizzes in the chapters give readers an opportunity to self-assess, while the sidebars draw out important concepts. In addition to a table of contents, the book also contains a list of websites that provide further reading about the topics covered. This is an excellent resource that will help adolescents navigate the tumultuous journey to finding themselves.—Anjeanette Alexander-Smith.
– VOYA, February 2017
For students trying to figure out school, life, and the meaning of everything, Patricia Wooster's new book may be the answer. By following one or more of the ten suggestions Wooster offers for "igniting" different aspects of life, including relationships, dreams, and failures, teens can begin to take charge of their own life and move it in a positive direction. Along the way they receive helpful hints about spark igniters—things to keep life positive—and spark extinguishers—ways of thinking that will quickly dampen enthusiasm for life. Readers will also find useful quizzes to help them pinpoint where they are in relationship to the topic. What sets this book apart is that the author intentionally designed the book to be revisited over and over again. The suggestion is to focus on one or two sparks, implement them, and then come back for more. Also included are bullying resources, college resources, and just-for-fun resources. This book could be a teen's constant companion during the high school years. Additional Resources. Websites.
– School Library Connection, May/June 2017