French Lessons

Pamela Druckerman’s Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting (Penguin, Feb.7). continues to get attention. It was featured on the Today Show yesterday and on NPR’s All Things Considered.

It’s the lead book review in new issue of People (Feb 20), which gives it 3.5 of a possible 4 stars, and calls it an “engaging memoir-cum-sociological study.”

The NYT is not buying it. Reviewing it yesterday, Susannah Meadows, says “Much of the so-called French child rearing wisdom compiled here is obvious.” She also notes that the amount of support French mothers receive from the government (national paid maternity leave, free pre-school, subsidized nannies) would make anyone more relaxed about parenting.

Entertainment Weekly finds it a “fun read,” but gives it only a “B” because “Druckerman seems to draw all her anecdotal evidence from a mere handful of upper-middle-class Parisians.”

Several reviewers are comparing this book to last years’s Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. Both were excerpted in the Wall Street Journal. The L.A. Times notes,

Chua’s excerpt, “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior,” almost instantly went viral, whereas Druckerman’s “Why French Parents Are Superior” is trending a little slower. Druckerman’s a bit more circumspect than Chua, a technique that tends not to attract as many eyeballs…while Bringing Up Bébé may wind up a hit, it’s unlikely to be a sensation of Tiger Mom proportions.

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