cover image Crawling: A Father's First Year

Crawling: A Father's First Year

Elisha Cooper, . . Pantheon, $19.95 (165pp) ISBN 978-0-375-42455-7

In spite of all the fine children's books he'd written and illustrated (Magic Thinks Big ; Dance! ), Cooper always knew, deep down, that he didn't really like children "in person." Parents were worse. Parents were people who used to have interesting lives, but now spent their waking hours discussing how tired they were. Adults without children dined in marvelously relaxing restaurants; parents ate in horribly plastic places featuring "mac and cheese." The very act of becoming a parent—that "miracle" of his wife giving birth to Zoë—was frightening; as he said, "I'd call 911 but we're already in a hospital." In loosely chronological essays, Cooper describes his experiences taking Zoë to the local cafe, to playgrounds, to the petting farm or to "baby night" at the movies. Before long, he started to relax. He learned to give her diaper a surreptitious sniff and not make a big deal of it. Rather than complain about Zoë's outfits, he learned just to change them after his wife left for work. While he always found something new to worry about, he also realized it didn't matter, since he was so totally besotted with this dear child. With a delicious sense of humor and remarkably graceful phrasing, Cooper's journal is a gift to all new parents—especially the guys. (Sept.)