An indispensable manual for parents venturing into the unknown territory of day care.

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Dear Daycare Parent

A step-by-step guide explains the mysterious world of day care.

Rioux and Parylak aim their debut book at first-time parents undertaking the always wrenching process of transitioning their child from home care to a day care center. The authors draw on their own extensive experience in education and child care to break down the basics of what is naturally an intimidating and bewildering move: handing a youngster over to comparative strangers for large chunks of the day. The book addresses every conceivable detail those nervous parents might encounter, from the unsavory (head lice and playtime biting, among many other horrors of childhood) to the practical (don’t forget to turn the car’s engine off before escorting the child inside; make sure the youngster’s microwaveable lunch is packed in the right container; and always remember the all-important precaution of labeling literally everything). The authors adopt a thoroughly confident and cheerful tone throughout, firmly but happily reminding jittery parents that caregivers are people too, often busy folks watching many children at the same time all day long—and gently admonishing overly demanding mothers and fathers (the type wanting minute-by-minute accountings of how their kids spend each visit). At every stage, Rioux and Parylak encourage communication between parents and workers (“Bulletin boards are posted either in your child’s classroom or just outside it. This board highlights important notices or information. Please read them daily”). The useful volume tells parents that there are no silly questions but also consistently reminds them throughout of their own responsibilities—for carefully laying out any problems or special requirements their child might have (rather than counting on the staff to be mind readers), for explaining to workers any factors (such as divorce or illness) at home that might affect the youngster’s behavior at the facility, and even for informing caregivers of any change in the person who’ll be picking up the child at the end of the visit. Parents facing this switch from home care to a center often become frazzled and worried by the change—and hence prone to mistakes or oversights. This book, lavishly and wonderfully illustrated by Graf, should be on every new parent’s nightstand.

An indispensable manual for parents venturing into the unknown territory of day care.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-692-57249-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 13, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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AN INVISIBLE THREAD

THE TRUE STORY OF AN 11-YEAR-OLD PANHANDLER, A BUSY SALES EXECUTIVE, AND AN UNLIKELY MEETING WITH DESTINY

A straightforward tale of kindness and paying it forward in 1980s New York.

When advertising executive Schroff answered a child’s request for spare change by inviting him for lunch, she did not expect the encounter to grow into a friendship that would endure into his adulthood. The author recounts how she and Maurice, a promising boy from a drug-addicted family, learned to trust each other. Schroff acknowledges risks—including the possibility of her actions being misconstrued and the tension of crossing socio-economic divides—but does not dwell on the complexities of homelessness or the philosophical problems of altruism. She does not question whether public recognition is beneficial, or whether it is sufficient for the recipient to realize the extent of what has been done. With the assistance of People human-interest writer Tresniowski (Tiger Virtues, 2005, etc.), Schroff adheres to a personal narrative that traces her troubled relationship with her father, her meetings with Maurice and his background, all while avoiding direct parallels, noting that their childhoods differed in severity even if they shared similar emotional voids. With feel-good dramatizations, the story seldom transcends the message that reaching out makes a difference. It is framed in simple terms, from attributing the first meeting to “two people with complicated pasts and fragile dreams” that were “somehow meant to be friends” to the conclusion that love is a driving force. Admirably, Schroff notes that she did not seek a role as a “substitute parent,” and she does not judge Maurice’s mother for her lifestyle. That both main figures experience a few setbacks yet eventually survive is never in question; the story fittingly concludes with an epilogue by Maurice. For readers seeking an uplifting reminder that small gestures matter.

 

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4516-4251-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Howard Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2011

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A vivid sequel that strains credulity.

THE ESCAPE ARTIST

Fremont (After Long Silence, 1999) continues—and alters—her story of how memories of the Holocaust affected her family.

At the age of 44, the author learned that her father had disowned her, declaring her “predeceased”—or dead in his eyes—in his will. It was his final insult: Her parents had stopped speaking to her after she’d published After Long Silence, which exposed them as Jewish Holocaust survivors who had posed as Catholics in Europe and America in order to hide multilayered secrets. Here, Fremont delves further into her tortured family dynamics and shows how the rift developed. One thread centers on her life after her harrowing childhood: her education at Wellesley and Boston University, the loss of her virginity to a college boyfriend before accepting her lesbianism, her stint with the Peace Corps in Lesotho, and her decades of work as a lawyer in Boston. Another strand involves her fraught relationship with her sister, Lara, and how their difficulties relate to their father, a doctor embittered after years in the Siberian gulag; and their mother, deeply enmeshed with her own sister, Zosia, who had married an Italian count and stayed in Rome to raise a child. Fremont tells these stories with novelistic flair, ending with a surprising theory about why her parents hid their Judaism. Yet she often appears insensitive to the serious problems she says Lara once faced, including suicidal depression. “The whole point of suicide, I thought, was to succeed at it,” she writes. “My sister’s completion rate was pathetic.” Key facts also differ from those in her earlier work. After Long Silence says, for example, that the author grew up “in a small city in the Midwest” while she writes here that she grew up in “upstate New York,” changes Fremont says she made for “consistency” in the new book but that muddy its narrative waters. The discrepancies may not bother readers seeking psychological insights rather than factual accuracy, but others will wonder if this book should have been labeled a fictionalized autobiography rather than a memoir.

A vivid sequel that strains credulity.

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-982113-60-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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