Nonfiction on Parenting the Dutch Way and Bioarchaeology | Xpress Reviews

Week ending May 19, 2017

Acosta, Rina Mae & Michele Hutchison. The Happiest Kids in the World: How Dutch Parents Help Their Kids (and Themselves) by Doing Less. Experiment. Apr. 2017. 245p. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781615193905. pap. $15.95; ebk. ISBN 9781615193912. CHILD REARING
Inspired by a 2013 UNICEF report rating Dutch children as the happiest in the world, debut authors Acosta ( and Hutchison, both expats living in the Netherlands, investigate the reasons behind this finding. Drawing on a variety of sources, from philosophers and historians to case studies and interviews they conducted, the authors get to the heart of the relaxed Dutch culture and parenting style, as compared to their American and British counterparts who focus on competition and perfection from an early age. With more freedom that allows for unsupervised play, cycling to school, taking time to explore hobbies, and an educational system that emphasizes motivation and noncompetitive grading, Dutch children develop a strong foundation from which to pursue their interests and also have fun. While each author draws on her own experiences, observations, and research, with Acosta concentrating on elementary ages and up and Hutchison on children five and under, both contribute equally to the work, ensuring a wide range of perspective.
Verdict A must-read for all parents looking to adopt a more relaxed parenting style and create a less stressful environment for their children.—Meaghan Darling, Long Hill Twp. P.L., Gillette, NJ

Hassett, Brenna. Built on Bones: 15,000 Years of Urban Life and Death. Bloomsbury Sigma. May 2017. 320p. ISBN 9781472922939. $27; ebk. ISBN 9781472922953. SCI
Hassett, an archaeologist at the Natural History Museum of London, describes bioarchaeology as the study of how people lived in the past. Human bones, long buried, flesh out the history suggested by archaeology’s traditional study of tools and structures. In this exploration of the topic, Hassett includes findings from various cultures from around the globe and during different eras while engaging with experts across disciplines. She explains how tooth decay, shortened stature, and signs of childhood disease reveal the consequences of a change from a hunter-gatherer existence to an agricultural lifestyle in the Neolithic period. Skeletal remains show evidence of violence, labor, and inequality, pointing to the effect of cities on their inhabitants. Examples such as the London cholera outbreak of 1854 demonstrate how city life can both increase the spread of infectious disease and provide the means to control it. Humorous footnotes enliven the scholarly discussion of history, philosophy, and sociology.
Verdict A well-researched companion to “lost city” best sellers, this survey of the field is highly recommended for academic libraries or public libraries that serve devoted popular science readers.—Catherine Lantz, Univ. of Illinois at Chicago Lib.

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