11 June 2011

Your Sensory Baby (Megan Faure)

Available at all good bookstores and from Penguin Books South Africa

So, like all new moms, I have a copy of Baby Sense

I’ve read some of it. Like most moms-to-be, I intended to read all of it, but then my baby arrived and my reading ground to a screeching halt. And like several moms, I’m convinced that Baby Sense is part utter genius and part stuff that I’m simply too lazy to try. (Eep! Honesty!)

I do know which page the Jungle Juice recipe is on, though, like everyone else. So that's something. But it was with no small measure of trepidation that I opened Megan Faure’s new book, aimed at helping moms to achieve ‘happy days and peaceful nights’: Your Sensory Baby. Was I ready?

Yup. My trepidation was largely unwarranted.

Before I get into that, however, let me first say that Your Sensory Baby is not a sequel. Not a part II. It’s a whole new book. (It’s not like What to Expect When You’re Expecting, which gets re-vamped and re-written every few years, with the necessary updates and a preggie in increasingly modern attire on the cover.)

So if you’ve read one, or several of Megan Faure’s superb books in the past, you should read this one too. And if you’ve never read one of her books, start here.

The first three chapters of the book are about, you guessed it, senses, and how these influence your new baby’s feelings, sleep and development. You’re also taught to use ‘gentle and flexible’ routines to soothe and feed the little creature. 

They're largely simple and straightforward, mind you, but if they feel like hard work, select the ones that don't... (That's what I've done. Or, am trying to do. Or, will do.)

Chapters 4, 5 and 6 are about translating your baby’s behaviour into meaningful signals, about getting your own personality to work for you, and about baby’s potential for development, and from Chapter 7, you’ll encounter age-banded sections – your premature baby, your newborn, your baby at two to six weeks, your baby at six weeks to four months, and so on – that hold answers, tips, techniques and testimonials relating to particular periods in your mommyhood. I really like this element...

So, my take? This book is fantastic.

It’s beautifully presented, easy to read through in detail or to scan with a screaming kid swinging from your neck, and full of useful, user-friendly, simple-to-apply advice you can use immediately, wherever in the parenting game you are. 

Its advice is all-encompassing, and whether you choose to use all of it, some of it or tiny bits of it, depending on the kind of parent you want to be, there's something for you.

I have only one criticism and here it is: the book divides babies into ‘social butterfly’, ‘settled’, ‘slow to warm up’ and ‘sensitive’, and it’s not that easy to tell which one your child is until they’re four months or older. This means that a fair bit of the good value in the book, because it’s linked to the four ‘types’, can’t really be accessed til later. By which time habits have formed – for mommy and baby…

But on the whole, this is a must-read if you’re that sort of mom. You know, the one who has, and reads, most of the must-read mommy/baby/parenting books. Or, the one who wants to.

The Empress of Ice Cream (Anthony Capella)

Available at all good bookstores, courtesy of Penguin Books South Africa, and on www.kalahari.net.

For my money, Anthony Capella is the master of literary deliciousness. Firstly, because he writes books about food. Okay, centred on food. And the people who produce it, eat it and love-make with it. And secondly, because his characters, plots, and colour are utterly yummy. (If a leetle simplistic and one-dimensional.)

In this, his fourth novel, following in the lip-smacking footsteps of The Food of Love, The Wedding Officer and The Various Flavours of Coffee (one of my favourites), Carlo Demirco is the dashing Italian confectioner-to-the-king who rises from nothingness to be vaunted by the French and English courts.

What does he confection? Cream ice. Or rather, ice cream. [There was a bit of Italian-to-English translation confusion, you see, and the term 'ice cream' was born.]

In short, Signor Demirco is the god of creating smooth, sultry, addictive ice cream in fruity, herby and other flavours I'd never even considered, let alone heard of (pippin, rose petal, celery, hibiscus, basil, maidenhair fern, black pepper, fig, cardamom, lavender - yum!), and his icy masterpieces, together with their exquisite and whimsical presentation, become the talk of two royal towns.

Along the way, Carlo meets Louise de Keroualle, an impoverished yet beautiful lady-in-waiting, and the two become friends, enemies and then allies as strangers to England and to the awkward English way of doing things. This is when the novel becomes largely Philippa Gregory-ish in its orientation... And this is when I really start to enjoy it. Because there's only so much ice cream I can dream about.

[The novel is narrated in the first person by both Carlo and Louise - not a beloved device of mine. But it works in this story. Especially since Louise is a lot like Mary Boleyn in The Other Boleyn Girl...]

So, if you're into novels focused on food, and you like historical fiction, and you're not looking for complexity, disturbia or major drama, get yourself a bowl, a spoon and this book. Bon appetit.