Why parents should ordinarily concern themselves with their children's speech is hard to say--and Bolles' book, for all his talk of multiple purposes, offers little illumination on the subject. He first divides information about language acquisition into a chapter for each year: ""Cries, Coos, and Syllables"" (""exclamatory intonation"" at six months, ""insistent intonation"" at ten); ""The First Words"" (the one-year-old's naming of things--apropos of pointing, remembering, wanting); ""Beyond Words"" (in the next year, to ""primitive sentences""). Then, confusingly, he shifts to a description of conversation, grammar, and ""style"" across age-groups--so that the parent of a three-year-old would find information about children's use of language to direct others in chapter eight, possible difficulties with clarity in chapter ten, and a list of the various ages for mastery of sounds in chapter 13. Throughout, anything a child might say is interpreted in terms of language; even fantasy and cognitive development are treated as manifestations of linguistic milestones. Parents who suspect problems will find a brief discussion of deafness (with a strong bias toward sign language) and also attention to such peripheral concerns as a tendency to ""speak nonsense"" or ""tell lies."" For severe difficulties, Bolles advises seeing a doctor; ""most language symptoms are false alarms,"" he writes, and advocates puppet play and nursery rhymes. A belabored muddle.