A fascinating exploration of the importance of the outdoors to childhood development.

READ REVIEW

THERE'S NO SUCH THING AS BAD WEATHER

A SCANDINAVIAN MOM'S SECRETS FOR RAISING HEALTHY, RESILIENT, AND CONFIDENT KIDS (FROM FRILUFTSLIV TO HYGGE)

A Swedish woman contrasts child-raising styles in the United States and Sweden.

Growing up in Sweden, McGurk, who runs the blog Rain or Shine Mamma, spent much of the day outside, regardless of the weather. So when she moved to a small town in the Midwest and had two children of her own, she expected them to be as enthusiastic about the outdoors as she was. Unfortunately, that was not the case. This led her to wonder whether it was just in America where children have little contact with nature or if the Swedes had also turned their backs on the outdoors. When her father became ill, McGurk took her children to Sweden for six months and spent the time examining the differences in child-rearing styles between the U.S. and Sweden and, more generally, Scandinavia. The author expertly combines personal memories of her childhood and that of her children with scientific data and research to show the significant disparities in the way children interact with nature in each country. In Sweden, infants are left to sleep outside, even in cold weather (bundled up), as the fresh air is good for them. Preschoolers and school-age children have multiple recesses per day and are encouraged to engage in sledding, skiing, ice skating, and other activities, many of which are deemed too dangerous in the U.S. Scandinavian children often attend nature schools where they learn to use knives and axes, build fires, identify edible plants, and develop an awareness of their natural surroundings; this fosters a deep desire to protect and preserve these areas. The author effectively shows the many ways American parents can learn from their Scandinavian counterparts, and she provides numerous tips and techniques to help parents incorporate these ideas into their daily lives. The glossary of Scandinavian terms, from hygge to solfattig (“sun poor”), is also helpful.

A fascinating exploration of the importance of the outdoors to childhood development.

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5011-4362-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Touchstone/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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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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Mostly conservative in its stance and choices but common-sensical and current.

HOW TO RAISE A READER

Savvy counsel and starter lists for fretting parents.

New York Times Book Review editor Paul (My Life With Bob: Flawed Heroine Keeps Book of Books, Plot Ensues, 2017, etc.) and Russo, the children’s book editor for that publication, provide standard-issue but deftly noninvasive strategies for making books and reading integral elements in children’s lives. Some of it is easier said than done, but all is intended to promote “the natural, timeless, time-stopping joys of reading” for pleasure. Mediumwise, print reigns supreme, with mild approval for audio and video books but discouraging words about reading apps and the hazards of children becoming “slaves to the screen.” In a series of chapters keyed to stages of childhood, infancy to the teen years, the authors supplement their advice with short lists of developmentally appropriate titles—by their lights, anyway: Ellen Raskin’s Westing Game on a list for teens?—all kitted out with enticing annotations. The authors enlarge their offerings with thematic lists, from “Books That Made Us Laugh” to “Historical Fiction.” In each set, the authors go for a mix of recent and perennially popular favorites, leaving off mention of publication dates so that hoary classics like Janice May Udry’s A Tree Is Nice seem as fresh as David Wiesner’s Flotsam and Carson Ellis’ Du Iz Tak? and sidestepping controversial titles and themes in the sections for younger and middle-grade readers—with a few exceptions, such as a cautionary note that some grown-ups see “relentless overparenting” in Margaret Wise Brown’s Runaway Bunny. Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House series doesn’t make the cut except for a passing reference to its “troubling treatment of Indians.” The teen lists tend to be edgier, salted with the provocative likes of Art Spiegelman’s Maus and Angie Thomas’ The Hate U Give, and a nod to current demands for more LGBTQ and other #ownvoices books casts at least a glance beyond the mainstream. Yaccarino leads a quartet of illustrators who supplement the occasional book cover thumbnails with vignettes and larger views of children happily absorbed in reading.

Mostly conservative in its stance and choices but common-sensical and current.

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5235-0530-2

Page Count: 216

Publisher: Workman

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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