Monday, October 11, 2010

Review of a Great Superhero Book

How Do You Tuck In a Superhero? And Other Delightful Mysteries of Raising Boys by Rachel Balducci. Revell, 2010, 203 pages, $12.99 US.

I picked this book up back in August at the Catholic New Media Celebration in Boston, Massachusetts. It was a very inspiring experience, meeting other bloggers and podcasters. I also love the opportunity to buy a book and get it autographed!

That being said, I acknowledge that the title of this book seems entirely antithetical to this blog's central conceit, viz., that our children are turning us into mindless servants of their whims. At best, they are misled geniuses making scientific experiments of us. From the kids' point of view, I'm sure they think of themselves as superheroes. I mean, Lex Luthor thinks he's saving the world from Superman, right?

Brief overview of content:

This book is a collection of essays and stories by a mom raising five boys. She chronicles the ups, downs, laughs, tears, antics, aggravations, eating habits, clothing limitations, limitless imaginings and Chuck Norris obsessions she deals with every day.

Author overview:

Blurb from the back of the book: Rachel Balducci is a writer and the mother of five lively boys--with another baby on the way. Her website,, has been nominated for several awards and chronicles the antics of her boys.


1. Read cover to cover vs. consult as needed.

The book does not present practical advice for the reader, so you wouldn't really consult the book. Many lists, like unlikely household rules and gear needed for life with boys, are sprinkled throughout. I'm tempted to adopt some of these, such as "no throwing things out of second story windows; yes, even if you have a bucket below to catch them; especially not Daddy's underwear and our nicely bound books." [p. 151] It reads pretty quickly and is uniformly delightful, so I would recommend reading it cover to cover.

2. Readability.

The essays are short (from one to four pages), so it's easy to read little bits in between checking to make sure the kids aren't killing each other or destroying important property. The style is warm and engaging and quite often laugh out loud funny.

3. Helpful to a parent?

Here's the tricky one. Even though the book doesn't present practical advice, I'd say its real value is practically indispensable. Many are the times that I think I'm going crazy over the antics of my three year-old and one and a half year-old. They want impossible things or they aren't sure what they want or just can't communicate it or just keep asking figuring I will eventually say yes. Seeing other people dealing with the same craziness is comforting. And even more, learning to embrace and enjoy the amazingly fresh and unconventional acts and attitudes of our children. You don't have to survive the childhood of your children, you can thrive in it.

4. Did we use it?

I've thought about it. We are definitely adopting the "no throwing Daddy's underwear and nice books out the window" rule. We'll probably even extend it to Mommy's underwear.

Sample text

On Sticks: I continue to be amazed, for instance, when I see the wide and varied list of things that a simple stick can become. I see a stick. My boys see a lance, and then a spear, a javelin, or possibly a high jump pole. Later on it's a fishing pole and the world's skinniest rocket. And that's just the first ten minutes." [p. 83]
On Boy Scouts: My boys are natural-born Boy Scouts. This stems less from a nature that is always prepared and has more to do with their inherent love of fire and wild behavior. If you have a passion for fire and for being wild, you will make a very fine Scout. [p. 116]

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