March (of the) Books

Your Three-Year-Old: Friend or Enemy by Louise Bates Ames and Frances Ilg is useful, like the two-year-old version. They're pretty old (this one is from the mid-eighties) so they're weirdly time-capsulish. This one gives a suggested plan for your kid's third birthday, and it's all "you should be able to manage this with the help of two or three other mothers". Presumably Father is in the drawing room smoking his pipe?

Your Call Is Important To Us: The Truth about Bullshit by Laura Penny. It must be very hard to write about bullshit, because Don Watson tried to do it, and failed, and now there's this. It started off pretty well, but eventually turned into an all-purpose lefty jeremiad, with the usual anti-corporate, anti-globalization, anti-consumer (Evian is naive spelled backwards!) stuff. Not so much with the bullshit. She also handily ignores the great steaming heaps of the stuff generated by leftish groups like anti-GM protesters; as if conservatives have a monopoly on bullshit!

Me and Mr. Stenner by Evan Hunter. I was glad to find out that Evan Hunter is the pseudonym of Ed McBain (actually, vice versa, but I'm not sure what the latin for "real name" is) and that he's written a million books. This one is a book for young adults, and I really enjoyed it. Hunter is a genius at capturing dialogue, and this is no different, except it is set (and written) in 1976 so the dialogue is kind of quaint. I wish he had written more young adult books -- this is as good as Judy Blume.

Perfect Parents: Baby-care Advice Past and Present by Christina Hardyment is a book which chronicles the changes in advice given to parents from the 1700s until now. This is a lovely book because it makes you realize that despite all the crazy-ass things people have done with their children, society still seems to chug along. It was a surprise to me how much variation there has been in childcare practices; I had a vague idea that in the Olden Days everyone was really strict, and now everyone is really permissive, and that's all there is to it, but really there has been a lot more subtlety in parenting practices over the centuries. Hardyment is a historian, so there is a lot of discussion about how historical events like wars inform parenting.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is annoyed or bewildered by the variety of advice out there. I only wish it were newer, so I could hear what Hardyment has to say about the judgemental insanity that is Dr. Sears and attachment parenting. (Which is, like the curate's egg, good in parts.)

The Blackboard Jungle by Evan Hunter. Evan Hunter -- Ed McBain -- wrote The Blackboard Jungle! Cool! So I had to take it out of the library and have a read. It's really good. Can I just stop saying that Hunter/McBain books are really good? That would save some typing. It's about a novice teacher dealing with the, well, crap of working at an inner-city vocational school. There is an especially good rant in the middle about vocational schools and teaching and what does it all mean?

Obviously, I think this would be a really interesting book for Kathryn to read since she is also a novice teacher dealing with lots of crap, but I am reluctant to because if she didn't like it I would be very sad. So Kathryn, I recommend this book but if you don't like it please don't say anything!


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