"Baby Lore" is a small coffee table book - all slick paper, pretty photos, bits and pieces of poetic thought.
In it Odette Chatham-Baker recounts birth ceremonies, myths and traditions from around the world. Chatham-Baker wrote it for "romantics and for remembering." When a baby is born, she says, two families come together. It's an appropriate time for parents to reflect on the customs of other people and other times.Some customs are charming enough to copy - as the way Germans and Swiss plant a pear tree to commemorate a boy baby, and an apple tree for a girl.
Others just make interesting reading - as in the variety of tricks for warding off the evil eye. (Some Jewish couples call their baby Old Man until after the bris ceremony, to fool demons who may be after a baby's soul.)
Recipes, etiquette tips and lullabies are included with the folklore.THE DIVORCE WORKBOOK, MY KIND OF FAMILY and CHANGING FAMILIES; all by David Fassler, Michele Lash and Sally Blakeslee Ives Loughridge; Waterfront Books; in paperback, $14.95 each.
With only one sentence per page and a few stick drawings done by children, these three workbooks seem simple in the extreme.
For children adjusting to divorce, single-parent living and or step-families, however, they provide a chance for some deep thinking and maybe even some deep healing.
If children can use the books to express their feelings through words and pictures, "Parents, teachers and other caring adults may also find the book useful to help them understand the child's perspective in a changing family situation," say authors Fassler, Lash and Blakeslee Ives Loughridge. (One surmises that Blakeslee Ives Loughridge's family has gone through some of the changes she chronicles, since her name is different on each volume she wrote.)
The books are meant to be drawn in. "My Kind of Family," for example, starts with one sentence on a big white page: There are lots of different kinds of families.
Then follow several pages of children's depictions of their families, more white space, and an invitation to write or draw your own idea of what a family is.
Later the authors, who are counselors and a doctor, invite children to draw a picture of their other parent. "Even if you don't know your other parent, draw what you think that person might look like." Children are invited to see what others wrote and then write and draw about changes that may or may not happen in their families. ("Maybe I'll get a new cat." "Maybe my brother will stop being such a jerk." "Maybe my mom will get a new job. Then I can get my basketball sneakers.")
The books are supposed to be for children ages 6-12. They seem more appropriate for children 9 and under. Even a child as young as 4 could benefit from a workbook like this, if it were read aloud.