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Here are two books by popular contemporary figures that deal with similar subject matter but take vastly different approaches. From a father's perspective and with his unique sense of humor, Cosby discusses the decision to have a child, the changes the child brings about, and the issues of discipline and independence. By making parents laugh at the pitfalls of parenthood, he shows them in his fresh and funny way that even at their moments of greatest frustration they are not alone. Harvard psychiatrist Poussaint's introduction and lengthy afterword, in which he discusses the changing role of the modern father, add greatly to the book's value as a parenting guide. By using actual letters children have written to her and weaving them together with personal anecdotes, Blume allows children to express their innermost feelings. She is thereby able to reveal children's fears about growing up, popularity, sexuality, and death and their experiences with such serious problems as drug abuse, incest, and life in foster care. While her book will give guidance to parents trying to understand their children (there is a list of agencies, as well), it will also appeal to young adults trying to understand themselves. Although neither book gives in-depth treatment to any topic, both are sure to have wide readership. Recommended for public libraries. Florence Scarinci, Nassau Community Coll. Lib., Garden City, N.Y.

The funny, touching and warm-hearted revelations by the star of the top-rated TV series look like a spectacular bestseller. Cosby regales parents and often comforts them with tales about his life as a father of five, a source of bewilderment to him from their infancy through the terrible teens. (``One day I told them to get in the car.'' All five grabbed the same handle and beat on each other for the same door. Not one, he observes, was smart enough to use any of the other doors.) All instances of the humorist's experiences are refreshing and marvelously ludicrous. Readers would surely rather have more of them than the pages brimming with Poussaint's verbose homiletics, perhaps meant as a doctor's imprimatur, but not needed. Although Cosby mostly restates material that appears in many other books about family life, past and present, his is a winner. 750,000 first printing; $300,000 ad/promo; first serial to Good Housekeeping; Literary Guild selection. (May 23)

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