First, I am so glad my parents didn’t name me Pabst. Second, to all the publishers out there, there is no more room on the shelves for any further titles on infant sleep. Just stoppit. Finally, what the three starred titles all have in common might seem a bit elusive at first so I’ll give you the answer: they’re a bargain. Big on respective philosophies and offering ideas that are cheap to implement. In short, these books offer a good return on the investment. Grandma usually doesn’t charge as a babysitter, and camping is way less expensive than Disney World. I like this trend…this inexpensive, back to basics, sandbox-as-professional-sport approach. My kids have committed to saving 20 percent of their income in 2013, which I thought was pretty good considering they only get five dollars per week. I have fully committed to as many play dates with Grandma as geography will allow (that was a no-brainer). Camping is another story, but I’m willing to pitch a tent in my basement. Here’s to less expensive alternatives for having fun with the family.
Bruno, Miek and Kerry Sparks. Hello, My Name is Pabst: Baby Names for Nonconformist, Indie, Geeky, DIY, Hispter, and Alterna-Parents of Every Kind. Three Rivers Pr. 2012. 192p. ISBN 9780770435936. pap. $9.99. CHILD REARING
In this bizarre compilation of alternative baby names, Bruno and Sparks attempt to help parents find that “gee, I wish I’d thought of that” name for junior. They concern themselves with such issues as whether or not your kid will have a unique username on social networking sites (John Smith probably being taken, they advise) and seem to give much credence to whether or not your friends will be jealous. They also advocate adding, subtracting, and switching letters for new variations on more traditional names. E.g., Jaek instead of Jake or Jills instead of Jill. Organized into categories, such as “Names that will Grow Into a Mustache” and “Names that Fit Into Skinny Jeans,” readers will find everything from “Zippo” to “Schmatz” (Schmatz? Seriously?).
VERDICT This book would make Gwyneth Paltrow blush—no amount of hermeneutics can save it.
Clapp, James F. and Catherine Cram. Exercising Through Your Pregnancy: A Compelling Case for Exercise Before, During, and After Pregnancy. Addicus Bks. 2012. 274p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781936374335. pap. $21.95. CHILD REARING
In this revised second edition, physician Clapp (former professor emeritus, reproductive biology, Case Western Reserve Univ., obstetrics and gynecology, Univ. of Vermont Coll. of Medicine) and exercise physiologist Cram (Comprehensive Fitness Consulting, LLC) update their leading title on the benefits of exercise during pregnancy. This title is best aimed at professional athletes who are expecting or pregnant women working in the fitness industry who want to continue exercising throughout their pregnancy; it is not for someone beginning an exercise program. The information is scientific in nature and includes charts, graphs, exertion scales, and notes to many scientific studies.
VERDICT Only academic libraries with collections for prenatal workers need acquire, but libraries with the first edition should buy this update.
Elliott, Sinikka. Not My Kid: What Parents Believe About the Sex Lives of Their Teenagers. New York Univ. Pr. 2012. 224p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780814722596. pap. $22. CHILD REARING
Elliott (sociology, North Carolina State Univ.) examines parents’ attitudes toward their teenagers’ sexual identity and finds that parents equate sex with dangerous and risky behavior, which in turn colors their views of their teens’ maturity. She emphasizes how these views are closely tied to a broader cultural attitude that stems “in large part from a complex blend of free-market economics and restrictive sexual morality…characterized by a paradoxical mix of sexual obsessions and sexual shames.” Essentially, parents do not view their “biological children as sexual agents with sexual desires, even though they view adolescents in general as highly sexually motivated.”
VERDICT Elliott’s sampling of four schools from a liberal city in a conservative state is far too small to draw cultural conclusions from, but her book provides interesting background for reframing the conversation about adolescents and sexuality. Appropriate for undergraduate and graduate sociology collections.
Gehring, Abigail. The Simple Joys of Grandparenting: Stories, Nursery Rhymes, Recipes, Games, Crafts, and More. Skyhorse. 2012. 240p. illus. ISBN 9781616086428. $19.95. CHILD REARING
For small children, weekends spent with grandma is the equivalent of catnip. In this charming activity book for grandparents, readers will delight in a simple yet captivating bounty of spoils sure to cement Grandma’s rock star status. Replete with beloved fairy tales, recipes such as Peter Rabbit salad, and homemade crafts like pinecone birds and pressed flowers, the book also includes a special section with space for building family trees and remembering important dates. Full color illustrations from the likes of Beatrix Potter and Kate Greenaway perfectly capture the innocence of a leisurely childhood and will enchant junior as much as grandma. Yes, one can find all of this information elsewhere, but this is a pitch-perfect combination of simple activities and vintage drawings that makes for an instant homesteading classic.
VERDICT Wrap this book with a bow and send your mischief-making deputies to grandma’s. As Gehring states in the tear-jerking introduction, “Grandparents…are in the perfect position to make their grandchild feel like the most important thing in the world just by being present, by listening, [and] by taking time to get to know him.” A lovely title that captures a most special relationship.
Herman, Conner and Kira Ryan. The Dream Sleeper: A Three-Part Plan for Getting Your Baby to Love Sleep. Jossey-Bass. 2012. 249p. ISBN 9781118018422. pap. $17.95. CHILD REARING
One-time US Air Force intelligence officer Herman and research strategist Ryan, cofounders of Dream Team Baby, specialists in telephone sleep consultations and sleepovers (for nearly $2000) appear to be cutting their teeth on new parents’ weary desperation. With backing from a team of professional consultants, the book is divided into three parts and covers the usual terrain of Q&As, worksheets, and sample schedules based on the baby’s age.
VERDICT Kudos to the authors for keeping the text under 250 pages—Still, my advice is the same as last year: if you have Marc Weissbluth’s titles on sleep, there is no need to update. See also Harvey Karp’s The Happiest Baby Guide to Great Sleep: Simple Solutions for Kids From Birth to 5 Years reviewed below. No silver bullet here.
Hunt, Mary. Raising Financially Confident Kids. Revell. 2012. 224p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780800721411. pap. $12.99. CHILD REARING
In this lead title from Revell, Hunt, (Debt-Proof Living, 7 Money Rules for Life ) who lived through her own self-inflicted financial crisis, shares with readers how to raise kids with rich financial literacy and a debt-free lifestyle, sans a sense of entitlement. She outlines how to put children on a salary at the age of ten, arguing that as long as funds-on-demand are parental, there is no limit and no apparent end to resources. Depending on their age, kids are then responsible for their budget spanning over a month, be it for video games, hot lunches at school, or gifts for birthday parties. Some might find her “citations” and “no loans” system a bit rigid, but her school of hard knocks is sure to teach valuable and long-lasting lessons. Mid-text she delves into the slimy details of the advertising industry, which gets boring, but her sharp and clever style is generally pleasing—”A bank credit card is available to most anyone who has two things: an ID and a pulse.”
VERDICT While the first few months on Hunt’s financial plan might feel like sailing on choppy waters, diligent parents will avoid the long-term toxic blend of entitlement and consumer debt, never mind the epic battles and macro-drama as a result of needing the latest gizmo or gadget. Highly recommended for public libraries, parents, and kids across America.
Kalbantner-Wernicke, Karin and Tina Haase. Baby Shiatsu: Gentle Touch to Help Your Baby Thrive. Singing Dragon. 2012. 160p. illus. bibliog. ISBN 9781848191044. $19.95. CHILD REARING
According to Kalbantner-Wernicke and Hasse, shiatsu (literally translated as “finger pressure”) is concerned with finding equilibrium and can help bring about emotional balance in children. In this book that’s aimed exclusively at parents, the authors teach how to treat an infant with gentle pressure on the 12 main energy channels, called meridians (stomach, spleen, lung, etc.) for balancing the flow of energy. The book’s format is pleasing and offers attractive photos throughout.
VERDICT Libraries with high demand for information on Eastern or holistic medicine might consider. Otherwise, save the twenty bucks, and just provide your baby with lots of loving, hands-on affection. In my house, it was a ma-soo-gee, a giggle-inducing, toddler-corrupted variant of massage.
Karp, Harvey. The Happiest Baby Guide to Great Sleep: Simple Solutions for Kids From Birth to 5 Years. William Morrow. 2012. 367p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780062113313. $25.99. CHILD REARING
Pediatrician and popular author Karp (The Happiest Baby on the Block) offers a phone book-length title on sleep. Organized by age, he covers the expected material, along with such late-to-the-game myth-busters as “never wake a sleeping baby.” While Karp is a popular and bestselling author, there isn’t much new here in terms of research and approach, and his liberal recommendations are a bit dubious—always pick up a crying baby and repeat the cycle “over and over.” In addition, some Q&As seem completely fabricated: “Does swaddling hurt a baby’s hips?” There are so many books on the market about infant sleep that it’s a wonder we still have something to discuss.
VERDICT While the advice is sound, the book is embarrassingly long while the author belabors the obvious, and the pace is insufferable. Despite the critique, patrons may likely request.
Meltzer, Brad. Heroes for My Daughter. Harper. 2012. 144p. illus. ISBN 9780061905261. $19.99. CHILD REARING
In this she-version companion piece to his 2010 release Heroes for My Son, thriller writer Meltzer offers profiles of such important and inspiring women as Marie Curie, Audrey Hepburn, and Amelia Earhart. The entries are one to two pages each and include a photograph, the hero’s profession, and a Meltzer-manufactured heading. (Anne Frank is listed as “Witness” and Judy Blume as “Truth Teller.”) The entries pique interest for further research, more than provide any real information (Sally Ride “saw an opportunity and grabbed it”). But libraries with Meltzer’s Son volume may want to acquire the companion.
VERDICT This book may provide ideas for biography reports, but it is ultimately more of a coffee-table book than a library resource.
Olsson, Helen and Scotty Reifsnyder (illus.). The Down and Dirty Guide to Camping with Kids: How to Plan Memorable Family Adventures and Connect Kids to Nature. Roost Bks. 2012. 254p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781590309551. pap. $17.95. CHILD REARING
For some, camping is balm for a withered soul; others would rather get a root canal. No doubt about it, however, kids love camping and at some point, they’ll likely demand an organized trip to the woods. For the uninitiated—or else panicked—Boulder-based freelance writer and New York Times contributor Olsson offers this thorough and accessible guide that covers all the bases. The text is best for beginners since she addresses camping as mostly weekend car trips in fair weather. Yet within that context, each page is loaded with helpful tips and information. Contained in four sections, Olsson covers such topics as trip planning, gearing up, organizing the campsite, boredom busters, and first aid and safety. The text includes sidebars, “Smart Tips,” and handy checklists throughout, which make it visually appealing and easy to consult. From slathering cotton balls in petroleum jelly as firestarters (love it!) to freezing stews ahead of time and letting them double as ice packs, Olsson has you covered.
VERDICT As more and more families avoid the high costs of traveling by staying close to home, camping has greater appeal than ever before. This would make a lovely addition to a display on summer adventures and is enthusiastically recommended for all public libraries. Bring on the dirt.
Pan, Cindy and Vanessa Woods. Headstarts: 100 Tips for Raising Clever, Confident, Creative Kids. Trafalgar Square. 2012. 198p. ISBN 9781741755749. pap. $16.95. CHILD REARING
Medical practitioner Pan and research scientist Woods (Duke Univ.) compile some key findings from the latest cognitive science research into one- to two-page summaries, confirming what most of us already know—breast is best, kids need hugs, and sugar doesn’t make you hyper. Labeled 1-100 and written in a concise and zippy style, the authors offer a new format more than anything, but that makes it perfect bathroom reading.
VERDICT Stick it in the magazine rack next to the toilet where it is probably likeliest to be read by both mom and dad. The book’s cover is worth bonus points.
Phelan, Thomas W. Surviving Your Adolescents: How to Manage and Let Go of Your 13-18 Year Olds. ParentMagic, Inc. 2012. 168p. illus. index. ISBN 9781889140605. pap. $14.95. CHILD REARING
In this revised third edition, Phelan (1-2-3 Magic) offers parents a humorous and laid-back approach to dealing with adolescents. He argues that “society has not yet found a way to deal with the fact that prolonged dependence is insulting to young people [and that the] inevitable result of prolonged adolescence in our culture is that teens will regularly feel irritation toward older folks and a sense of alienation from the society they are a part of.” Replete with effective drama-laden cartoons, Phelan fully grasps the struggles parents face, and he does not mince words or sugar coat the issues. He firmly believes “the more hostility and distance there is…between parents and teenagers, the more frequently adolescents will act out their negative feelings in activities involving driving, drugs and alcohol, sex and risks on the internet.” To avoid that, parents need to chillax, not take things personally, and put most adolescent behaviors into the MBA category (minor but aggravating).
VERDICT While adolescent titles are a dime a dozen, this is just as good as Anthony Wolf’s I’d Listen to My Parents If They’d Just Shut Up (2011). Recommended.
Rubin, Annette and Melissa Schweiger. Belli Beautiful: The Essential Guide to the Safest Health and Beauty Products for Pregnancy, Mom, and Baby. Da Capo. 2012. 256p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780738214917. pap. $16.99. CHILD REARING
Born out of the paranoia that nobody was screening skin care products for links to birth defects and miscarriages, beauty industry professional, physician-wife, and first-time mom Rubin teams with beauty writer Schweiger to write this book that also serves as a marketing piece for the husband-wife company Belli (billed as “medically responsible skin care products for new moms and their babies”). Arguing that approx. 20 percent of the ingredients in the average personal care product is linked to birth defects, the authors offer safe alternatives, advice, and of course, promote their own line of beauty products. This is a combination of fear mongering, beauty advice, sales, good intentions, and some decent product recommendations.
VERDICT I’m not sure what to make of it, but I’m not buying it. There’s a strangeness here, reminiscent of a hunchbacked ballerina.