An engaging guide that offers a valuable rewards solution for frazzled moms and dads.




A debut manual addresses many problems in parenting with a dash of fun and plenty of advice.

“He started it.” “Can you read one more story?” “I’ll do it later.” From early toddlerhood on, it seems to many a harried parent that the child-rearing path is littered with a litany of endless complaints followed by seat-of-the-pants deal-making. Tired moms and dads just might give in to expert cajoling from young ones or, worse, bribe them for more desirable outcomes. As Shiller (Child Study Center/Yale Univ.) shows in her book, there’s a savvier method of approaching standard-issue parenting troubles: the rewards plan. While many readers may have seen a generalized version of “sticker charts,” Shiller, ably assisted by Schneider, delves deeply into the subject, first by assuring the worried parent that a rewards plan is not a bribe and that kids who follow such strategies do not grow up expecting prizes for every task when they get older. The volume, with illustrations by Matthews, discusses various probable situations in detail and with good humor. What if daily hygiene is a battle? A kid who loves gymnastics could earn stickers toward lessons, for example. To encourage a child to follow bedtime rules, his mother could offer a trip to an amusement park if he earns 55 check marks on the Keeping Track charts in the next month. The key is to bargain during downtime and not when everyone’s nerves are frayed (“Wait for a calm moment. Don’t offer a reward while the hysteria is in full flower”). Although Shiller encourages dialogue, she points out that there are ways to make sure that kids don’t ask for Nintendo systems every week they make their beds. How? Negotiate. Parents of older children should especially appreciate how the same system can be used for their situations—say, when sleepovers become difficult to execute. The book includes a variety of pullout charts (Zoo, Treasure Hunt, Dinosaur Land) that can be colored in right away and examples of stickers to use when a kid slips up and makes a mistake. A cleareyed and informative look at the trials of parenting, this readable book presents one solution customized for a bevy of situations, providing a template to tackle practically every challenge through this new lens.

An engaging guide that offers a valuable rewards solution for frazzled moms and dads.

Pub Date: May 1, 2003

ISBN: 978-1-59147-006-9

Page Count: 131

Publisher: American Psychological Association

Review Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2017

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A vivid sequel that strains credulity.


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


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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