Tag Archives: Book review

Book Review: “Wonder” (Book review Pedcast)

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By RJ Palacio

Publisher- Alfred Knopf, NY


I was biking with friends recently, one of who is an excellent forth grade teacher named Mindy Passe.  We were talking blog as we whizzed through the streets of Charlotte, and Mindy mentioned a book that readers of my blog may find interesting.  The book is called Wonder, written by R. J. Palacio.  Mindy’s class read the book and discussed its themes, which both the children and the teachers found instructive.  I gave the book a read and in today’s pedcast, I am going to give you my opinion and insights about the book called Wonder, by RJ Palacio.


Here is the basic story of the book:  A child named Auggie is born with major facial deformities that have a genetic basis.  Auggie undergoes numerous surgeries and is still left with a face that others find shockingly ugly.  His mother homeschools him, but, when he is ten, his parents think it is time for him to attend school.  They coax him into trying his first year with other kids at Beecher Academy, a local prep school.  The book chronicles his first year at school as told through the eyes of Auggie, his family, his classmates, and teachers.  Highlights of Auggie’s fifth grade year include enduring the shock of his classmates getting used to his major physical deformities, dealing with social isolation and the outright hostility of his classmates, the death of his beloved dog who was at his side during all his recoveries from surgeries, and finally gaining acceptance, respect, and even the admiration of his classmates.  His classmates’ almost complete rejection at the beginning of the school year is ultimately replaced by their acceptance of his deformity and their admiration of his strength of character.


The author masterfully describes these experiences through the eyes of the children, their parents, and teachers. The story is engaging.  Watching these events unfold in the book provokes the reader to ponder the following questions:


a.  Why does a birth defect elicit such fear, anger and hostility in others?

b.  How does Auggie have the strength of character to endure all the negative experiences he encounters?

c.  How does one define character?

d.  How do we make sense of the death of those we love?

e.  Why do the characters change their view of Auggie from someone to be feared and reviled to someone they admire and respect?



Both young and older readers will grow from thinking about these questions. I’ve got to say that I really enjoyed this book.  It was fun to read and well written.  I wish I had read it with my kids when they were young. I recommend this book highly.  It is written on a level that even young readers can master.  That’s not to say that adult readers won’t relate to the story; I think they will.  In my view, the power of this book is that it broaches subjects that we usually don’t talk about, such as how we treat those with handicaps, and how people with handicaps affect us, and visa versa. In my view, reading this book with your child can only be a positive experience.  I highly recommend that you buy it, download it, or check it out of the library.  You will be glad you did.  I give it a 4.5 out of 5 Doc Smo stars



I didn’t know that a book review could have so much relevance to current events, but I think this one does. In the book’s case we are examining how a child and society interact when the child has a severe physical deformity.  In the case of Newtown Connecticut, substitute autism/Asperger syndrome for the deformity and it seems to me many of the themes are the same.  Something to think about.  Thanks   for joining me today. I hope you can listen to other DocSmo topics you will find at my blog, www.docsmo.com.  As always, your comments are welcome.  This is your host, Dr. Paul Smolen, helping you fill the need for a darn good read.  Until next time.


Book Review: Bringing up BeBe by Pamela Druckerman(Book Review Pedcast)

Help support DocSmo.com by buying this reviewed book using this affiliate link. You get Amazon’s best price and DocSmo.com earns a small affiliate marketing fee.  Thank you.
Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting (now with Bébé Day by Day: 100 Keys to French Parenting)

Bringing up BeBe

Publisher: The Penguin Press, New York, 2012

Author:  Pamela Druckerman


-Thank you for joining me for another edition of DocSmo.com, a blog dedicated to bringing information, insight, and thought provoking ideas to parents with children of all ages.

-I have decided to expand the scope of my blog by adding a new feature that I think parents will find interesting…book reviews.

-I read a lot of things regarding pediatrics but not enough of the popular parenting books that seem to be constantly published.

-So I thought that I needed to read more of these books and while I’m at it, why not write reviews at the same time.

-Here is my first attempt at a book review for public consumption. I hope you like it and who knows, it might inspire you to just go out and read the book-Just like many of you, I recently heard about a book that a Wall Street Journal journalist, living in France, wrote about her French parenting experiences and I thought I would give it a read.

-I am glad I did.  Not only is she a good writer, but getting an inside glimpse at childrearing practices in another culture is fascinating.

-We all understand that you cannot assume a monolithic or uniform approach to parenting in either the US or France, but some general observations are probably valuable.

-This is exactly what our author does in her book titled “Bring up BeBe.

-Here is a quick summary of the four main themes I saw in the book in 10 megabytes or less:


First Theme: French babies generally sleep through the night, truly sleep through the night by 3-4 months of age, and this is because French parents teach them independence from a very young age.   French mothers refer to babies “doing their nights.”  Mrs Druckerman noticed that American and British babies have a lot more trouble mastering this skill–hence the myriad of baby books and blog posts on the subject. My own current #1 downloaded post is “Straight Talk about Sleep for infants!”  The author contends that French babies “Do their nights” because French parents allow their babies to learn to put themselves to sleep with what they call “la pause.” This simply means that parents pause before they run to their crying babies to give them a chance to settle down on their own, or to connect with their sleep cycles ,so to speak.  Listeners to this blog will recognize this as what I call the 10-10-10.

Theme number 2: French children are more patient than  American children because French parents teach them to wait. Starting from their feeding and sleep schedules as infants, French children are trained to wait.  When a child interrupts a parent he or she is asked to wait.  Children are taught to control their hunger till meal time, and they must wait until each course of a meal is served; in- between meal snacks are just not done.  When cooking with mom, French children learn to patiently await the outcome–no eating batter or frosting. Patience is a mindset that is taught to young French children.

Theme 3: The people and children of France have a healthier relationship with food than Americans have.  First, foods in France are fresh vegetables rather than white rice.  Vegetables and fruits are embraced in France, not sneaked into other foods.  Snack foods and processed foods are just not offered. In France, if a child rejects a food, never mind…just keep trying!  No emotion.  French parents take the long view and realize that eventually their children will overcome their resistance.  Be patient is their attitude and eventually you will have a wholesome eater.

Theme 4: If children are asked to entertain themselves, they will.  Trying to teach stuff to children is not as important in France as letting them explore and discover things on their own.  Getting a head start is not a goal of French parenting. Learning to awaken to the world is their model, and this implies self-discovery… self play… and the ability to entertain oneself.

-I do recommend this very readable book. Watching how other cultures parent can be very instructive on this side of the pond. According to Mrs Druckerman, the French parents do many things right by expecting patience, proper eating, good behavior and by encouraging self sufficiency and self discovery.

-I would love to hear what you think. Take the plunge and join the conversation. Write a comment into the blog and you might just see it posted.

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This is your host Dr. Paul Smolen hoping you now know what to say about parenting the French way.

 Until next time