How an empathetic play therapist in an East Harlem Head Start preschool helps disadvantaged, disturbed children gain insights into their deepest terrors as a step toward psychological health. An evocative writer, Koplow (Associate Director of the Therapeutic Nursery at N.Y.C.'s Karen Horney Clinic) vivifies the hectic day-to-day reality of the preschool and of the unique, frequently bizarre, personae of the children she treats. Louis, for example, can read, but with no connection to bis emotions or to random sensory input, he is unable to play or to communicate verbally. He can only parrot words. Raphael crouches ""like a fierce bird protecting an imaginary egg"" and glares at the world. Sirin noisily buzzes about, pretending she is an angry fly. By careful observance of the children's actions ha the playroom, by participating in their fantasy play when they ask her to, and by careful, empathetically worded interpretations of what she intuits as the causes of their behavior, Kaplow opens the children's minds and helps them banish their obsessions. Louis, whose development was stymied by an overbearing sitter, acts out the stages of babyhood he had missed. He learns to connect and communicate with the world. Raphael loses his terror of being hacked to pieces and Sirin comes to terms with her parent-induced anxieties about cleanliness and ""tainted"" milk. An involving narrative that should interest many parents--whether of ""troubled"" children or not--as well as educators and psychiatric professionals.