Goldstein is a clinical psychologist who has used his therapeutic experiences with children as a foundation for this sober, readable perspective on troubled behavior. Without concentrating on blame for emotional disturbances, he suggests nine signals for concern (immature or overly mature behavior, sudden and intense fears), cites periods of stress common to all children, and indicates when parents should hold back or intervene. Emphasizing the importance of identifying and discussing problems as they arise, he uses Piaget's framework to explain how children think differently and refers to magical thinking and children's moral structures to place certain kinds of behavior within a developmental context. His theories, reinforced by case histories, are soundly elaborated, and when he moves on to more severe cases at The Hospital (a residential center where he worked for many years), he demonstrates other strengths, walking that fine line between interpretation for a general audience and professional acumen. (He also records how easily professionals can stray.) Although offering many do's and don'ts, this is not one of those genial how-tos; nor, although it chronicles some distressingly sad cases, is it a treatment of early mental illness designed to leach the most emotion out of sympathetic readers. Overall, it's a competent, almost understated introduction to an often overdramatized subject.