Friday, February 26, 2010

A Must Have for Parents: "Boston Baby: A Field Guide for Urban Parents"

I grew up just outside of Boston. But when I had my first son in 2006, and my second in 2008, I realized that I was completely clueless when it came to trying to entertain two little boys in the middle of New England winters. As I began to discover activities to do and, of course, places to eat with them, I started this blog. In many ways it was meant to fill a void. I struggled to find any resource that was directed to parents of young children, that was up to date, and that included places to eat that weren't chain restaurants.

Ironically, if I had Boston Baby: A Field Guide for Urban Parents, I am not sure this blog would have existed at all. So, I will start by stating two things: first, the Union Park Press sent me a copy of the book to check out. However, the accolades here are purely my own. And, second I am envious of Kim Foley MacKinnon's ability to research and write such a great book. However, MacKinnon's background as the parent of a now 11 year old girl and the editor at Daily Candy Kids Boston gave her the perfect angle to do so.
For urban parents, this book is a gem. However, if you even if you aren't an urban parent, keep reading. One of my favorite aspects of this book is how it both draws attention to the outstanding resources that exist in Boston, as well as in the surrounding areas. In addition, while this is a must have for any new parent, the book is packed with activities for toddlers, elementary age kids and even teens. It is also the perfect size to be tucked into a bag for those days when there "isn't anything to do."

This book goes far beyond any others I have seen due to MacKinnon's ability to highlight many lesser-known gems in the area. She describes everything from museums, to indoor playspaces to beaches such as Houghton Pond in Milton. Even though I have written this blog for 3 years, I had no idea, say, of the existence of the Boston Fire Museum. She also offers details that I haven't previously seen in similar books such as consignment stores; gyms that offer daycare; "Navigating the Public School" jungle and places for children to learn a second language.

Of course I quickly checked out her restaurant section. Again, I loved that despite my familiarity with places to take the kids, MacKinnon challenged me to rethink what I knew. For example, though I had heard of Sophia's Grotto in Roslindale, it never would have occurred to me to bring my toddlers there.

The book is full of the details anyone would want such as location, hours and contact info. However, I also appreciated her attention to bargains and free opportunities. I also was intrigued by the section that lists activities by month so that you can keep track of annual events such as the Ducklings Day Parade in May or the Arts in the Park at the DeCordova Museum in September. Finally, I applaud MacKinnon for keeping not-for-profits, community centers, libraries and independently owned businesses at the core of her book.

So, if you want to purchase the book, it is now available for $17.95 at great booksellers like the Brookline Booksmith, as well as on-line.

But, for a fabulous night out and a great deal, reserve seats for the next Family Dining event at Aura on Friday, March 5th. I have written 3 posts (here, here and here) about how much fun it can be to eat with your kids at Aura. More importantly, Chef Rachel Klein is a talented chef so you can always count on delicious food. But this night, for the same price (40$ for a 3 course meal for adults; kids are a la carte), you get a copy of the book, a chance to meet with Kim Foley MacKinnon and a chance for your kids to do art with the staff of ArtBeat.

Just click here to learn more about the I Love My Boston Baby Night/ Family Dining Event at Aura on March 5th. For other chances to hear from and meet with Kim Foley MacKinnon, you can head to the Blue Bunny Book and Toy Store in Dedham on Thursday, March 11 from 7 p.m. to 8:30. Or, take the whole family to the Regent Theater's 25th Anniversary Celebration on Saturday, March 13 at 10 a.m. in Arlington. If you need more details on any of these events, or to purchase the book, just check out the Union Park Press website.

The reality is that it is so easy as a parent to turn to our "smart phones" to figure out the next activity. But MacKinnon has made the lives of harried parents that much easier by focusing our eyes on all the wonderful aspects of life here in the greater Boston area. That alone is worth buying the book!

1 comment:

  1. Great review! If I didn't already have the book, I'd run right out and buy it! :)