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The Field Guide to the North American Teenager by Ben Philippe

This week we are joined by our teacher friend Carissa Peck as we chat about The Field Guide to the North American Teenager by Ben Philippe. (Transcript)

42 The Field Guide to the North American Teenager by Ben Philippe

In today’s episode…

When Norris’ mother gets a job as a professor in Austin and his father “can’t quite fit a teenager” in the same house as his new wife and baby, Norris knows he’s in for a culture shock. After all, he’s seen tons of TV shows and movies showing what it’s like in American high school, and he knows that a black French Canadian is bound to have a hard time fitting in. He chronicles his anthropological observations of his new classmates in a journal, and is determined to keep his mouth shut. Maaaybe. Will Norris ever make friends in this cultural wilderness? Will he ever get to play hockey again? We’ll find out… in The Field Guide to the North American Teenager by Ben Philippe

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Episode highlights…


*2:48 We loved Norris’ snarky narration

*5:12 “Austin is cool!”

*8:23 We chat about Maddie, and cheerleaders

Things We Like A Latte

Danielle – Tidying Up With Marie Kondo and the cultural conversation it has sparked on the KonMari method

Carissa – NFL players telling dad jokes

Amanda – The Konzerthausorchester Berlin 





*16:38 We chat about the “LI”

*21:13 Carissa drops some knowledge on why we shouldn’t be using ‘basic’ as an insult

*22:28 We felt some aspects of this book were a little dated

*24:24 “Key lime pie season”



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More ideas and resources for teachers and librarians…

One of our favorite characters in this book was Maddie. She saw through Norris’ cool guy act, and wasn’t afraid to call him on his nonsense. She was also completely and unapologetically herself. Not ashamed on her town, her friends, or her interests, interests that many ‘cool kids’ like Norris would describe as ‘basic’.

Carissa brings up a great point in the podcast that the rise of ‘basic’ as in insult is a phenomenon that places teenage girls squarely in the cross-hairs of a TON of judgement and negativity.

This think-piece from describes basic as a term that “is meant to, in some way, make a woman feel bad about herself for wearing, consuming, or even just liking perfectly nice things that lots of other people like, too.”

Studies show that the onset of puberty causes a dramatic drop in girls’ confidence, and while many factors contribute to that, one element is likely that society has (in the words of Claire Francis from The Stanford Daily) a habit of systematically demonizing and dismissing the social identities young women create for themselves”

As teachers we shouldn’t make fun of women or girls for liking things that are popular, and we certainly shouldn’t have a negative view of certain things *just because* they are popular with women or girls.

42 The Field Guide to the North American Teenager by Ben Philippe

Get in touch with us on Instagram and Twitter at @yacafepodcast or email us at We look forward to hearing from you!




Hosts: Danielle Hall (who blogs at

          & Amanda Thrasher (a booklover extraordinaire)


Guests: Carissa Peck, find her on Instagram @meltingteacher

Producer: Leila Hobbs

Music: Matt McCammon


Thank you to Balzer + Bray for the ARC!

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