An articulate, painful, and touching journey that ends with an against-the-odds victory.

ANOTHER PLACE CALLED HOME

SURVIVING FOSTER CARE

In this debut memoir, a woman shares the traumas and triumphs of her seven years in and out of the foster-care system in upstate New York during the 1950s.

DuMond was 11 years old when the police took her mother away in an ambulance and the author was placed in the Susquehanna Valley Children’s Home in Binghamton. Her father had deserted the family years earlier, and her single mother was an alcoholic who had violent episodes. Six months later, DuMond was informed by the housemother Miss Hartford that her mother had been released from the hospital and that she and the author’s stepfather were coming for a visit. “My stepfather?” DuMond thinks. “I don’t have a stepfather.” Evidently, after her mother left the hospital, she married neighbor Les Whalen. They rented a duplex outside Binghamton and wanted the author to live with them. The experiment lasted less than six months, when her mother began drinking again. DuMond’s return to the children’s home coincided with the institution’s opening of smaller houses, each one serving as a residence for 12 girls and one housemother. The accommodations were significantly better than dormitory life, but the Cottage 3 housemother was especially antagonistic toward the author. Well-honed, primarily present-tense prose lends an air of immediacy to the memoir: “On most nights…I lie in bed and wait. In the dark, it feels like something is going to happen. I don’t know what, but it scares me.” Many of the stories illustrate harsh treatment, as when the Cottage 3 housemother forced DuMond into a tiny utility closet with scalding hot water running. But the tone is lightened with warm vignettes featuring Mr. McPherson, director of the home, and Miss Maude, the new housemother for Cottage 3. They provide supportive direction, appreciation of the author’s academic achievements, and genuine affection. Her tales about a stint working as a 16-year-old apprentice in local summer stock, including delightfully humorous backstage gossip about several of the decade’s theatrical luminaries, add some welcome levity.

An articulate, painful, and touching journey that ends with an against-the-odds victory.

Pub Date: May 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5439-4078-7

Page Count: 276

Publisher: BookBaby

Review Posted Online: April 23, 2019

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

DAD'S MAYBE BOOK

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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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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