March 08, 2007


Moments and Milestones Pregnancy Journal: A Week-by-Week Companion. By Jennifer Leigh Youngs and Bettie B. Youngs, Ph.D., Ed.D. AMACOM. $19.95.

Black & White. By Tana Hoban. Greenwillow/HarperCollins. $7.99.

      A spiral-bound, open-flat journal packed with ideas, suggestions and genuinely thoughtful concepts, and with plenty of chances for a woman to write down her own thoughts, hopes and worries, Moments and Milestones Pregnancy Journal is a pleasant and sensitive companion for a mother-to-be during those so-important nine months. Or about seven months, actually, since women rarely, if ever, know they are pregnant as soon as conception occurs. One of the attractions of this journal is that it addresses such realities directly. In Week 3, called “The Miracle Begins,” Jennifer and Bettie Youngs write, “Most likely, you’re reading this entry when you’re several weeks along in your pregnancy. So reading this entry in your journal is about thinking back and trying to remember the details about the week of this awesome moment. What day did conception occur? Were there any significant events going on in your life? As much as you can, recall all the important events of that week, so you can memorialize and celebrate this milestone in your life.” Week 4 contains similar sentiments – “Think about ways in which you were creating a nurturing environment for your baby, even though you did not yet know you were expecting” – along with suggestions about positive steps to take now: “Perhaps you need to reduce the stress in your life, to spend less time at work, or to mend a relationship.” The introductory material for each week quickly gives way to “BodyWise” and “SoulWise” sections, in which a mother-to-be is encouraged to write down her feelings and concerns. For example, “SoulWise” in Week 9 asks, “What are my hopes for this baby? Will I love my child and know that she is a blessing in my life no matter what?” In Week 15, “BodyWise” asks, “Has anyone else commented on the changes they’ve seen in me? What was the nicest thing someone said?” The well-chosen questions and honest commentary (“announcing your pregnant state can be disheartening to the woman who has struggled with infertility”) make this a real-world pregnancy journal as well as one that a woman can fill with private thoughts. About its only flaw is that there are only a few lines given in which to answer each question the authors pose – be prepared to write more than that and fill the pages with Post-It notes or taped-in scraps (or pages) of paper.

      After a baby is born, but before he or she is old enough to enjoy regular books, it can be hard to find interesting and stimulating items to keep his or her developing mind occupied. One excellent option is Tana Hoban’s Black & White, which is done just as the title says: entirely in black and white (color perception is poor in newborns). The book is structured as an accordion foldout, whose 14 panels show objects with which an infant will become increasingly familiar: keys, bottle, bird, buttons and more. Half the pictures – which are done in silhouette style, without detail and without any writing – are white on black, and half are black on white. The book is super-sturdy and can easily be set up in a crib, the foldout configured different ways at different times so baby focuses on different things to see. It is also super-safe: its rounded edges and complete absence of glue, staples or anything potentially harmful are big pluses – it closes book-style with a small circle of Velcro. Appropriate for newborns up to age two, Black & White is an excellent introduction to the world into which babies come after those nine months of parental anticipation.

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