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


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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A vivid sequel that strains credulity.


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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A miscellany of paternal pride (and frustration) darkened by the author’s increasing realizations of his mortality.


Ruminations and reminiscences of an author—now in his 70s—about fatherhood, writing, and death.

O’Brien (July, July, 2002, etc.), who achieved considerable literary fame with both Going After Cacciato (1978) and The Things They Carried (1990), returns with an eclectic assembly of pieces that grow increasingly valedictory as the idea of mortality creeps in. (The title comes from the author’s uncertainty about his ability to assemble these pieces in a single volume.) He begins and ends with a letter: The initial one is to his first son (from 2003); the terminal one, to his two sons, both of whom are now teens (the present). Throughout the book, there are a number of recurring sections: “Home School” (lessons for his sons to accomplish), “The Magic Show” (about his long interest in magic), and “Pride” (about his feelings for his sons’ accomplishments). O’Brien also writes often about his own father. One literary figure emerges as almost a member of the family: Ernest Hemingway. The author loves Hemingway’s work (except when he doesn’t) and often gives his sons some of Papa’s most celebrated stories to read and think and write about. Near the end is a kind of stand-alone essay about Hemingway’s writings about war and death, which O’Brien realizes is Hemingway’s real subject. Other celebrated literary figures pop up in the text, including Elizabeth Bishop, Andrew Marvell, George Orwell, and Flannery O’Connor. Although O’Brien’s strong anti-war feelings are prominent throughout, his principal interest is fatherhood—specifically, at becoming a father later in his life and realizing that he will miss so much of his sons’ lives. He includes touching and amusing stories about his toddler sons, about the sadness he felt when his older son became a teen and began to distance himself, and about his anguish when his sons failed at something.

A miscellany of paternal pride (and frustration) darkened by the author’s increasing realizations of his mortality.

Pub Date: Oct. 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-618-03970-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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