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

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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 straightforward tale of kindness and paying it forward in 1980s New York.

When advertising executive Schroff answered a child’s request for spare change by inviting him for lunch, she did not expect the encounter to grow into a friendship that would endure into his adulthood. The author recounts how she and Maurice, a promising boy from a drug-addicted family, learned to trust each other. Schroff acknowledges risks—including the possibility of her actions being misconstrued and the tension of crossing socio-economic divides—but does not dwell on the complexities of homelessness or the philosophical problems of altruism. She does not question whether public recognition is beneficial, or whether it is sufficient for the recipient to realize the extent of what has been done. With the assistance of People human-interest writer Tresniowski (Tiger Virtues, 2005, etc.), Schroff adheres to a personal narrative that traces her troubled relationship with her father, her meetings with Maurice and his background, all while avoiding direct parallels, noting that their childhoods differed in severity even if they shared similar emotional voids. With feel-good dramatizations, the story seldom transcends the message that reaching out makes a difference. It is framed in simple terms, from attributing the first meeting to “two people with complicated pasts and fragile dreams” that were “somehow meant to be friends” to the conclusion that love is a driving force. Admirably, Schroff notes that she did not seek a role as a “substitute parent,” and she does not judge Maurice’s mother for her lifestyle. That both main figures experience a few setbacks yet eventually survive is never in question; the story fittingly concludes with an epilogue by Maurice. For readers seeking an uplifting reminder that small gestures matter.


Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4516-4251-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Howard Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2011

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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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