Parenting stories will leave you laughing out loud

If you are a parent or grandparent (or even aunt, uncle or caregiver) of young children, then "Parenting: Illustrated with Crappy Pictures" is a must-read for you.

Actually, this is the kind of book that you might feel guilty buying for yourself: It's full of illustrations and not so many words (though I swear it is for adults). But once you see a copy, you'll want to get it as a gift for every parent and especially soon-to-be parent you know.

So what makes "Parenting: Illustrated with Crappy Pictures" a different parenting book than the hundreds that are already out there? Simple: the author/illustrator Amber Dusick. She is a mother of two young children, a wife and a ceramic artist and wood crafter. One night, she started a blog — yes, this is one of those Cinderella stories. It was a blog about parenting, where she shared the truth — the oh-not-so-glorious, but wonderful, moments of parenting, and she couldn't find a photo to go with the post.

She started drawing her own illustrations on an older version of Photoshop and titled the blog crappypictures.com. As she states on her blog and in the book that resulted out of the blog — it's the pictures that are crummy, not her family. She loves her family, which is apparent in the stories that accompany the pictures.

The book is divided into 10 chapters, where Dusick discusses life before and after parenting, children and sickness, not sleeping, not eating, dirty diapers and more.

One of the best chapters, which you don't see in many parenting books, is "Traveling." My love for this section might be because I've done a bit of traveling by myself with my not-yet-3-year-old or maybe because Dusick is funny but truthful. I laughed out loud.

She shares, with pictures and words, the five-hour plane ride and five-hour car ride afterward, where both her husband and baby had the stomach flu. All parents will be laughing, thankful it is not them, and also thinking, "Oh, no," when Dusick writes that her husband wondered if she had packed an extra pair of pants for him in their carry-on bag. Another trip she highlights in this chapter is a road trip from Los Angeles to San Francisco for a birthday celebration, which is only a six-hour drive (or so they thought). She starts this story with, "Everything went smoothly for at least 10 minutes. And then, she inserts a picture of both children in their car seats crying and complaining. Priceless.

Another brilliant section, that will have anyone who knows kids giggling, is "The 50 Crappy Laws of Parenting." The great thing about Dusick is she's realistic and aware of what can happen when you decide to invite little people into your life, such as children wanting to play with a box instead of an expensive gift, or projectile vomiting, or using art supplies on everything but paper.

If you want to check out her illustration style or her humorous writing talent, Dusick has continued to blog. You can also buy some products: coffee mugs, water bottles, T-shirts and more. Plus, find out some more about the book and the author.

I approached this book with caution and trepidation, but after reading about one-third, I was hooked and a fan. I added a couple copies to my Christmas shopping list for my friends, too.

Margo L. Dill is the author of "Finding My Place: One Girl's Strength at Vicksburg," a middle grade historical fiction novel. She often reviews books as a columnist for "WOW! Women On Writing" e-zine and her blog, "Margo Dill's Read These Books and Use Them" (http://margodill.com/blog/). She lives in St. Louis with her family.

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