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The Girls' Guide to Tarot
by Kathleen Olmstead; illustrated by Sandie Turchyn

Softly illustrated and written in a friendly, easy tone, The Girls' Guide to Tarot provides a basic introduction to the seventy-eight cards, and to reading tarot for self and others. The book is written specifically for girls, perhaps aged ten to sixteen, as it focuses on growing individuality, self-esteem issues, and friendships. The writing does not go into great depth or detail, which makes it a lighthearted and fun read for this age group, while remaining gently serious.

Tarot meanings are brief but thorough enough for a true beginner, and they avoid being too negative or dramatic. Reversals are generally depicted as opposite to their upright meanings. Every card meaning is accompanied by a full-color image of the corresponding Rider-Waite card, which makes the book quite nice to look at, and valuable for beginners who might not have this particular deck or who might not otherwise understand its historical significance yet. Various symbols in the Rider-Waite images are discussed, to give further understanding to card meanings.
The Girls' Guide to Tarot
There are a good variety of tarot spreads, traditional and modern, all of which are easy to follow. A sample reading or two would have been greatly helpful for those who have never actually interpreted a tarot card before, to see how they work in readings, and how they are interpreted in each spread position. More than enough spreads are offered to get a beginner started, and to demonstrate the potential for further tarot work.

What sets this book apart from others like it, in addition to its easy tone and lovely artwork, is an awareness of and appreciation for girlhood. The author understands that girls this age often enjoy discussing their futures with their friends, and exploring their growing curiosity about life in general and spirit and mysticism specifically. She has offered a number of good ideas for working with the tarot in fun ways with friends and alone, and making tarot one's own unique, personal tool. Girls are taught some important tips about reading for others and putting a positive spin on negative cards. They are also reminded that the tarot can offer a glimpse of a possible future, but that we create the future as we live our lives, so nothing is written in stone. Encouragement is given for designing a tarot box or bag, with full directions for sewing with any favorite material. Designing one's own deck is even given a place here, with a number of tips to get girls started.

A bibliography or recommended reading list would have been nice. This is a book for beginners after all, and beginners need to know where to go next more than anyone. But overall this is a very nice book for the young girl with a new interest in tarot. Religious or occult overtones are missing from the book, which is refreshing. Girls are given the opportunity to simply learn about the tarot as a helpful device in making decisions, working on their friendships, and understanding themselves better. I would recommend this book for the young beginner, to be used alongside a traditional tarot deck such as the Rider-Waite Tarot or Robin Wood Tarot.

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Book review by Nellie Levine

Illumination Tarot has been publishing articles, reviews, tarot spreads, and personal reflections for tarot enthusiasts and followers of alternative spirituality online since 1999.
All writing, reviews, and photography © Nellie Levine - Illumination Tarot, unless otherwise noted. 1999-2022