Book Reviews

Get to Work: A Manifesto for Women of the World; Dooby Dooby Moo

Get to Work Get to Work: A Manifesto for Women of the World
By Linda R. Hirshman
Viking Adult, $19.95
112 pages, ISBN 0670038121

Reviewed by Avis Yarbrough

Get to Work: A Manifesto for Women of the World is an extension of a 2005 article Ms. Hirshman wrote titled “Homeward Bound” that appeared in American Prospect. In fact, the first chapter in the book is titled “Homeward Bound.” Hirshman argument, to put it simply, is that because married working women are responsible for most of the childcare and housekeeping they will, more then likely, stop working to stay at home.

Hirshman makes a compelling, layered and strong case, and her numerous sources help to backup her argument. Some of those sources include: The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan, Voicemale-What Husbands Really Think About There Wives, Sex, Housework and Commitment by Neil Chethik, “Women in the Labor Force: A Databook” US Department of Labor, 2005, and 1996 and 2005 New York Times Sunday “Styles” section dealing with brides and grooms.

Hirshman’s uses her background, as a retired Professor of Philosophy and Women’s Studies at Brandeis University, to her full advantage. Western philosophers have debated the question, “What makes a good life?” for centuries, argues Hirshman. It is educated women who can make the most impact in the public and social realms of this country, by helping to advance causes that would benefit middle-class and poorer women. When educated women decide to stay at home, they are not making the most of their capabilities, therefore are not making the most of their lives. Subsequently, such women must be prepared to defend their decisions.

Women are at a crossroads and what is at stack is their lives, Hirshman argues. Women who are choosing to stay at home are sacrificing the greater good, public life, for their families, and unnecessarily too.

At 112 pages, Get to Work is a tightly written, detailed, practical guide for women, which tells them how to avoid “choosing” to stay at home instead of in the workplace. Hirshman gives women four steps to follow:

First, women should use their education with an eye toward their career goals, and therefore should not study art because, more then likely, there is no money in it. Second, take work seriously. Hirshman contends that educated women, unlike educated men, make career decisions in the direction of less money and less opportunity for promotion. Third, women should not marry men who expect them to do most of the housework and childcare. If they find themselves already married to such a man, women should not just give in but should be prepared to negotiate for better terms. Fourth, women should not have more then one child.

Ms. Hirshman is very passionate about her argument, and is not above taking a few potshots at women who are choosing to stay at home with their children. About one such woman, Ms. Hirshman writes at one point in the book, "when they write me, the homebodies, like the merry maid in the treetops with NPR on her Ipod and a letter to her congressman in her overalls, paint a romantic picture of flourishing in the domestic sphere.”

However, no matter how passionate Ms. Hirshman is she does not fail to see the shortcomings in solutions that say better daycare is the answer. She even admits that putting a child in daycare all day long is not good, and that children need their parent’s constant supervision and attention. However, Hirshman asks the question, “Why must it be completely the women responsibility? Why aren’t men doing more to help women in childcare and housekeeping?”

Leaning more toward the practical then the idealistic Get to Work is structure in such a way so that readers will be able to easily follow Hirshman’s ideas and thoughts. There may be times when the reader is led toward a conclusion that they disagree with but, for the most part, Hirshman is asking readers to judge for themselves whether what these women are doing is right or wrong. In fact, Hirshman contends, I agree, that judging someone’s behavior is not wrong but good; for the society and future debates.

Get to Work: A Manifesto for Women of the World will give men and women plenty to think about, and I, for one, will never use the word “choice” the same way again.

Get to Work Dooby Dooby Moo
By Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Betsey Lewin
Atheneum Books for Young Readers, $16.95
40 pages, ISBN 0689845073

Reviewed by Amy Brozio-Andrews

Duck's back and craftier that ever in Dooby Dooby Moo, the latest Duck book by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin, the author and illustrator respectively of Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type, Duck for President, and Giggle, Giggle, Quack. Farmer Brown keeps close tabs on his barnyard, knowing full well the trouble his animals can get into under Duck's influence, and Duck in turn keeps close tabs on Farmer Brown. When Duck spots a newspaper ad for a talent show at the local fair, he knows that the barnyard friends are up to the challenge. Besides, first prize is a trampoline. And when Farmer Brown sees the gaping hole in his newspaper where the ad for the fair used to be, he knows there's something going on. He's just not sure what.

As the animals surreptitiously practice behind barn doors at night, disguising their singing with snoring, Farmer Brown thinks they're all sleeping, not mooing along to "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" or baaing to "Home on the Range." Farmer Brown keeps watching and waiting, but nothing happens. Still, knowing Duck all too well, Farmer Brown decides he's better of taking his animals to the fair with him rather than leave them alone with Duck. Meanwhile, when the animals arrive at the fair-- well, they bring the house down. And Farmer Brown's never the wiser. Until he hears the tell-tale sign of the talent fair winners enjoying their prize.

Fans of Duck and his previous adventures as ring-leader to the cows, pigs, and sheep will be thrilled with this clever new installment in the series. Cronin and Lewin are back with their trademark humor and silliness. Subtle touches of grown-up humor add parent-appeal, while sight-gags and funny prose are sure to give kids the giggles, especially as they listen to Mom or Dad try to sing along the animals' songs.

Lewin's expressive watercolor illustrations in her distinctive, fluid style perfectly reflect the light mood and tone of Cronin's text. Bright colors, a variety of viewer perspectives, and artwork that fills the page keep the book visually engaging to children, who will probably recognize the characters from the cover art before even hearing a word of the story.

It's a credit to the author and illustrator that they can continue to keep the go-arounds between the long-beleaguered Farmer Brown and the mischievous Duck fresh again and again, striking a good balance between sticking with a premise that's familiar to kids and keeping it new in each book at the same time; Cronin and Lewin continue to maintain the suspense for the reader every time, leaving us wondering if Duck will ever get caught and delighting in the fact that Farmer Brown can't seem to catch him.

Reading to kids is almost always a pleasant experience and with Dooby Dooby Moo, the experience transcends pleasant and gallops into the realm of fun, especially if you're lucky enough to read it to a group of children, where you can all be a little bit silly together.


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