It's a terrible time to be a child, Mrs. LeShan avers; moreover, it's almost impossible, what with parents pushing their offspring toward pseudo-maturity (intellectual and social) on the one hand and drowning them in material comforts on the other. The author, long-time expert on nursery schools and parent problems (How To Survive Parenthood, 1965), is a Dewey-eyed product of the progressive education of the Thirties, but she's not blind: she would moderate both the former overemphasis on adjustment and the present overemphasis on achievement. Strongest fire is directed at early learning (unnecessary, unhealthy, unproductive--with case studies for support) and especially ""Montessori madness"" (ahead of her time, behind ours); she also snipes at I.Q. idolatry, high school intransigence, college depersonalization, and concludes: ""The notion of perfectibility should be replaced by the goal of spontaneity, self-realization and individual fulfillment."" Parents of nice, ""normal"" children who are doing poorly in school will find particular comfort--the system is failing them (not vice versa) and there are remedies. A much-needed antidote and a real parent-rouser.