Book shelf


When you have a toddler, you need these quick tips 365 Toddler Tips, by Penny Warner with Paula Kelly, MD, Meadowbrook Press, 2004, $9.95.

When you are raising a toddler, it can feel as though every day brings a new challenge. If that's the case for you, then Penny Warner's 365 Toddler Tips should be enough to get you through the year. The book, compiled with the help of Dr. Paula Kelly, is filled with advice on everything from personal hygiene to nutrition and traveling. Chapters are organized by category and the author's ideas are broken up by "Quick Tips," anecdotes and examples submitted by other parents.

The book is a handy size and none of the advice is overwhelming. It provides straightforward ideas on appealing to fussy appetites, encouraging good manners and making bath time fun.

While none of the advice is revolutionary, it's handy in a pinch. Particularly useful are the lists Warner has compiled. These include specifics about serving sizes for a healthy diet, items in a well-stocked first-aid kit and a summary of standard vaccinations to help you keep track of well-child doctor visits.

Her chapter on playing with your toddler is filled with creative ideas for having fun. As the mother of toddlers who would love nothing better than to play hide and seek all day, I was eager to put some of her ideas into action. Warner's years of parenting classes have served the book well. The chapter on play is overflowing with craft projects, games and songs, along with simple explanations of the benefits of play for youngsters.

Other tips are more problematic. For example, Warner's advice to sing songs or feed a snack to a toddler who wakes in the night flies in the face of most parenting books. And I'm not convinced that timeouts are an effective disciplining tool for young toddlers. Still, even though I don't agree with Warner's advice across the board, 365 Tips is a resource I'm likely to return to again and again. Alena Murguia

Simple explanations for complex medical issues The Boy Who Loved Windows: Opening the Heart and Mind of a Child Threatened with Autism, by Patricia Stacey, DaCapo Press, 2003, $25.

Almost from the moment of baby Walker's birth, his parents knew something was wrong with him. Walker had difficulty breathing, severe eczema, weight loss, odd posturing, poor muscle tone, an intense aversion to human contact and an obsession with the light streaming through windows. In spite of doctors' assurances that their baby was fine, author Patricia Stacey and her husband began a frantic search for help for their second child. By 6 months, Walker had begun to receive early intervention services.

Like a dogged detective, Stacey researches Walker's symptoms and follows leads for treatments provided by friends and professionals who work with Walker. She learns that Walker is overwhelmed by his own senses (sensory integration disorder) and that his avoidance of touch, taste, sight and sound will prevent him from developing normally and that, in all probability, he will eventually be labeled autistic. She learns that he has allergies to breast milk and places him on a special baby formula.

Like many a desperate parent, she tries almost anything to help her son, so long as it sounds remotely reasonable. She pursues occupational, physical and speech therapies, vitamins and minerals, even massage therapy. Finally, she is referred to developmental psychiatrist Dr. Stanley Greenspan, who agrees to take on Walker. At 11 months, Walker becomes the youngest patient in Greenspan's very promising and intensive Floor Time therapy program.

All this effort is costly-not only financially, but also in the toll it takes on Stacey, her marriage and her family.

The Boy Who Loved Windows is a well-written account of an illness and a family in crisis. But the greatest strength of the book is the author's ability to explain complex medical issues such as the latest brain research and treatments-particularly Greenspan's Floor Time therapy-in layman's terms.

This book illustrates that early intervention is crucial to ensure the best outcome for these kids. It would be of value to any parent whose child does not appear to be developing normally as well as anyone who deals with infants professionally. Karen Fischer

Perfect practice makes perfect-drills to gain skills The Confident Coach's Guide to Teaching Basketball: A Surefire Plan for Successful Practices, by Beverly Breton Carroll with John Carroll, The Lyons Press, 2003, $12.95.

Practice makes perfect, but not when it comes to sports, especially when it involves the game of basketball. I'll bet you're shocked to read that, but your youth basketball team can practice until the soles of their Chuck Taylors wear thin. It's not going to do any good unless you read this book first.

Often parents with good intentions but minimal coaching experience volunteer to play the instructor's role on their kid's youth basketball team. It's not brain surgery, throwing a ball through a cylinder, but your aspiring hoopster can gain more practical knowledge and skill if he or she is taught the correct fundamentals of the game.

Beverly Breton Carroll is the wife of Boston Celtics Assistant Coach John Carroll, and the duo has created this essential and easily readable guide to teaching youth basketball. From dribbling to the flat triangle drills, this book will help mold a ramshackle of a team into an organized and efficient competitor.

The Carrolls have modified the cliché "practice makes perfect" to "a perfect practice makes perfect." And they're right. What we have here is more than the basics to coaching good basketball; it's an open playbook on the backbone of the sport.

Fundamentals covered include rebounding, dribbling, passing and shooting, with every aspect of the game broken down in simple terms for the reader. The Carrolls even suggest practice formats for kids of different age groups. You'd be surprised how long your 12-year-old should be working on her left-handed lay-up.

What's more important is players get an idea that basketball isn't just hurling a ball toward a basket. The kids will get a kick out of executing plays they've seen their favorite NBA or WNBA stars do on television. The jump shot, the hook shot and the fade-away don't have to be performed only in daydreams. It just takes a little guidance, for both coach and player. Brad Spencer


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