Archive for June, 2012

The M Club Manual: Missions, Memos, Mandates, Mottos, and More

June 23, 2012

Sultzbaugh, Kathryn. The M Club Manual: Missions, Memos, Mandates, Mottos, and More. Andrews McMeel Publishing. November, 2004. 224 pp. ISBN: 0-7407-4719-3. Paperback. $12.95.

The M Club doesn’t actually stand for anything, it’s a fiction that allows Sultzbaugh (a former reporter and magazine writer) to blow off steam. What initially sounds like a take-no-prisoners fest of constructive criticism quickly turns into a barrage of miserable fuming; “We have put up with a lot over the years and are now sick and tired (mostly tired) of everything going to hell in a handbasket.” This sick-and-tired theme becomes dully repetitive as beauty, fashion, money, the media, etc. are harangued non-stop. Some of these slams (collection agencies) are fair game; others (why criticize NASA?) are not. This bitchy, vituperative diatribe is not recommended; stick with uplifting stuff, like Mary McHugh’s How Not to Become a Little Old Lady (Andrews McMeel, 2002) or Marian Keyes Under the Duvet : Shoes, Reviews, Having the Blues, Builders, Babies, Families and Other Calamities (Perennial 2004).

This review appeared in Library Journal, though damned if I know when; this galley was shredded on June 23, 2012.

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No: Why Kids – of All Ages – Need to Hear It and Ways Parents can Say It

June 21, 2012

Walsh, David.  No: Why Kids – of All Ages – Need to Hear It and Ways Parents can Say It.  Free Press.  January, 2007.  288 pp.  ISBN: 0-7432-8917-X.  Trade cloth.  $23.00.

By noting that American culture has shifted in the past two generations to incline parents to say ‘yes,’ to themselves and their children, Walsh brings us to an important distinction – parenting exists outside the larger culture, and that is as it should be.  That children are more and more inclined to not know how to modulate their own behavior, to limit themselves, to tell themselves ‘no,’ is a cultural, not a parental, failing.  Be that as it may, we parents have much to work to do I we want to raise successful children.

Well written; clear and engaging.

One nit to pick is that he covers a lot of ground, some perhaps needlessly.  There are 2 ways to read the book- as a how-to (excellent), and as a critique of parenthood in America (good).  One does not necessarily invite the other.

Walsh’s list of do’s and don’ts at chapter ends are phenomenal (like, worthy of ripping out of the book worthy), a toolbox that every parent will find helpful; good advice often comes in the form of real-life examples drawn from many stages of kid lives.

While statements such as “self esteem does not boost academic achievement” (59) may seem contrarian, Walsh backs up his assertions with data as well as a bounty of real-life examples.  “True self esteem, he notes, comes from achievement” (60).  There are many lessons clearly set out in plain language; “kids need to figure things out for themselves,” (63), not hovering or micromanaging parents.  “Kids need some stress to develop their psychological muscles of resilience, stamina, determination, commitment, confidence, diligence, and perserverence” (68).

We also have to “teach them to be resilient” (70).

Thus, ‘no’ is about setting limits, about letting kids experience frustration, strong emotions, failure, and about not doing the work for your kids.  In this way, the kids grow and can become successful.  They can self-achieve, and they have balance.  The book examines ‘no’ in many different arenas, like with the brain, re: self-esteem, America’s ‘yes’ culture, dips into special needs a bit.  Excellent backup with many, varied illustrations from real life.

“The word ‘no’ itself is not important.  The concept of no is.  You can say no in many positive ways.

Not Rosemond exactly, but it is a form of palatable Rosemond.  Greenspan, Stanley I., M.D. The Secure Child: Helping Children Feel Safe and Confident in a Changing World – Walsh’s is the more practical, how-to filtered through Greenspan and Rosemond.  Somehow also reminiscent of Paul R. Stricker’s Sports Success Rx!: Your Child’s Prescription for the Best Experience: How To Maximize Potential and Minimize Pressure.

Those who most need it won’t read it?

I can’t locate where this review appeared, though I’m sure it did, in Library Journal. I *can* tell you that I shredded the galley on June 21, 2012.

How To Help Your Husband Make More Money So You Can Be a Stay-at-Home Mom

June 19, 2012

How To Help Your Husband Make More Money So You Can Be a Stay-at-Home Mom. Warner. Jan. 2003. c.158p. ISBN 0-446-69016-3. pap. $12.95. SELF-HELP

Don’t let the title mislead you–this is actually a career guide, albeit a poorly organized one, with precious little how-to information. From home, women support their husbands through “Team Work,” a fuzzy, poorly defined concept that includes fortifying his career. Watson, a stay-at-home mother in California, offers advice on resumes, networking, and job hunting, ranging from the obvious to the nonsensical (e.g., middle managers and executives should consider courses in Internet marketing as “the ticket to moving up to some of the hottest positions with their higher salaries”). The male perspective is notably absent. Consider instead these focused titles: Richard Nelson Bolles’s self-assessment bible, What Color Is Your Parachute?; Martin Yate’s Knock ‘Em Dead, a job search guide; and Christina Baglivi Tinglof’s The Stay-at-Home Parent Survival Guide. Not recommended.

This review appeared in Library Journal 128.1, January. 2003,  p138. The galley was shredded on June 19, 2012.

Putting Family First: Successful Strategies for Reclaiming Family Life in a Hurry-Up World

June 18, 2012

Putting Family First: Successful Strategies for Reclaiming Family Life in a Hurry-Up World. Holt. Aug. 2002. c.192p. ISBN 0-8050-6838-4. pap. $14. SELF-HELP

Cofounders of Family Life First, Doherty and Carlson believe that “family relationships are the irreplaceable core of a full human life” and that soccer practice, violin lessons, and other extracurricular activities serve to overwhelm children and distance them from their loved ones. Reclaiming the family meal, where parents establish and lead rituals (e.g., discussion, prayer) instead of just eating as quickly as possible, allows everyone to reconnect. This, in turn, eases further reclaiming, e.g., vacations and bedtimes. Although the authors’ passion sometimes smacks of zeal, there is much practical advice here for parents, including single parents and stepfamilies. John Rosemond’s New Parent Power! has a similar message, while Jim Taylor’s Positive Pushing: How To Raise a Successful and Happy Child presents an intense counterpoint. With its warm, reassuring tone and lots of examples from real families, Doherty and Carlson’s book is recommended for public libraries.

This review appeared in Library Journal on August 1, 2002, 127.13. The galley was shredded on June 18, 2012.

Go Girl! Help Your Daughter Be Healthy, Confident and Successful by Playing Sports

June 14, 2012

Storm, Hannah. Go Girl! Help Your Daughter Be Healthy, Confident and Successful by Playing Sports. Sourcebooks, Inc. May, 2002. 304 pp. Paper, $16.95, ISBN 1-57071-928-4; Hardcover, $24.95, ISBN 1-57071-972-1.

Storm’s book covers general aspects of physical fitness for girls from babyhood through high school; good sportsmanship, positive reinforcement of athleticism, nutrition, etc. are covered. Storm’s safe-and-sound approach is a bit bland and may lead readers to wonder why it is limited to girls; many of these issues are important and applicable to boys and are covered in books such as Good Sports : The Concerned Parent’s Guide to Competitive Youth Sports (LJ 4/1/93), now in a second edition (Sports Publishing, Inc., 1998). Storm includes a helpful chapter entitled “Sports 101” which introduces the basics of the most common sports. Resources, notes and index not seen by LJ. Consider Storm’s book for collections that don’t already have Sports Her Way: Motivating Girls to Start and Stay With Sports (Simon & Schuster, 2000).

This review appeared in Library Journal 5/15/2002, Vol. 127 Issue 9, p120. The galley was shredded more than ten years (!) later on June 14, 2012. Wow.