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Morrison, Kati; Airdrie Thompson-Guppy; and Patricia Bell.

Ottawa, Canadian Council on Social Development, c1986.126pp, paper, ISBN 0-8810-35-8-1 (cloth) $16.95, 0-88810-357-3 (paper) $10.95. Distributed by Canadian Council on Social Development, P.O. Box 3505, Station C, Ottawa, Ont., K1Y 4G1. CIP

Grades 12 and up
Reviewed by Kenneth A. Elliott

Volume 15 Number 1
1987 January

With the number of blended families increasing steadily, this handbook will be of particular value. The work is divided into seven chapters and an epilogue. The table of contents offers a special feature to the reader in that it is annotated, as is the three-page bibliography that concludes the volume. Twenty cartoons, sprinkled throughout the pages, provide highlight for the chapters. The large, clear type makes for easy reading.

The authors have made every effort to make this a practical guide for stepmothers and everyone else involved with a blended family. Each chapter concludes with some specific recommendations to those concerned. These are put into an outline format for easy reading and understanding.

Challenging the myth of the stepmother, the authors have had to write a myth of their own, "The King's Choice." In their research of fairy tales, they looked in vain for an understanding and nurturing stepmother. The wicked stepmother stereotype persists to this day. By writing their own fairy tale, the authors set the tone for their research.

A few of the key issues developed are; the stepmother is not a substitute for the natural mother; her relationship with the children does not have the natural bond of the biological mother; for the well-being of the children, there must be contact with the biological parents; the natural bond with the biological mother can never be replaced, but different kinds of bonds can be established with loving adults; a blended family is different from a nuclear family.

The recommendations concluding each chapter are addressed to the step-parent, natural father or mother, and the living in a blended family. Even the grandparents and other relatives are brought into the picture. Some of the chapter headings are interesting: "Stepmothers-Looking Past The Label"; "Caring For The Children"; "The Structure of Step-families and Legal Issues"; "Discipline-Whose Responsibility?"

This work will be useful to single parents, stepfathers, children in blended families, including relatives and friends. The format makes it ideal as a textbook for researchers and professionals.

Kenneth A. Elliott, Laval Catholic H.S., Chomedey, Que.
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