Treacly boluses of inspiration, some previously published in Reader's Digest, The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times. De Vinck, who teaches high-school English in New Jersey, offers essays of one to five pages with titles such as ``Illuminations,'' ``A Daughter's Question,'' and ``Children Know Best.'' Although the book is divided into sections--''Childhood,'' ``Adolescence,'' ``Family,'' ``Career,'' and so on--de Vinck says in his introduction that it's ``really'' about the voices of his mother and father and ``the extraordinary whistling sound [of the wind] as it rushed past the weather stripping of the front door.'' De Vinck's subtext is that adults are essentially corrupt and children are innocence and light, therefore closer to God--an idealized view of childhood that has children gathering flowers, discovering lizards in the pond, and dressing up in clothes found in the attic: There is no sickness, no rage or shame, no bad parents. De Vinck calls up Yeats, T.S. Eliot, William Carlos Williams, Dickens, Dylan Thomas, Robert Frost, Goethe, and others- -curiously, without quoting--perhaps to show that his saccharine sagas are grounded in great literature. He informs us that ``The moon is one of the saddest objects in the sky...''; that ``We all [need] something that is rooted in memory, in desire, and in loneliness...''; and that ``A green smile-face card is on the refrigerator.'' Readers looking for the wonders of childhood will have better luck with Blake, Twain, or Erik Erikson. Somewhere, Mary Poppins is gagging.