A good premise gone wrong: yes, parents do need to know the common signals of childhood illness, and when to get help--but this highly technical guide ends by being more frightening than reassuring. Pediatrician Martin first discusses the normal newborn, taking note of some perennial worries (eating schedules, ear wax, constipation). Then he gets into trouble as he explains how, with the aid of thermometer, tongue depressor, and stethoscope, to physically examine a child--a difficult feat even for experienced practitioners (""check the flexibility of the neck by gently turning it to the right and the left""). Thereafter, Martin tells just enough to disconcert: Is your child's face swollen? Chances are it's an allergy; but then again, it might be a severe kidney disease called glomerulonephritis. Such nonplus-ers abound as Martin proceeds to discuss various parts of the body, sometimes by symptom (""Your child intentionally eats dirt""), sometimes by disease (""abdominal epilepsy""). For each malady, probable cause and probable treatment are given--in premature, unnecessarily alarming detail (""at times file colon may have to be removed entirely . . . the child will be fitted with a water-tight container""). Parents will be far better off with one of the general, health-oriented family health guides.