cover image A Child's Place: A Year in the Life of a Day Care Center

A Child's Place: A Year in the Life of a Day Care Center

Ellen Ruppel Shell. Little Brown and Company, $19.95 (264pp) ISBN 978-0-316-78376-7

``Tot Lot,'' aka Cambridgeport Children's Center in Cambridge, Mass., is a community-based day care center with an unusual and colorful history. Founded in the early 1970s by a group of progressive parents, Tot Lot has faced seemingly insurmountable problems over the years, but through the dedicated efforts of its staff and volunteers has survived and today serves children from a variety of cultural, racial and socioeconomic backgrounds. Shell, associate professor of journalism at Boston University's graduate school, focuses on the head teacher (a woman who did not graduate from college but has a great love of children), a Haitian family struggling with American values, an educated, liberal family and a single mother trying to do right by her son. Peppered throughout the book are shorter anecdotes about other teachers, children and parents. Shell weaves these stories--comic, thought-provoking or tragic--to create a heartwarming, inspiring tapestry. (June)