This week my husband and I learned that the second child we're expecting this spring is actually two babies, which means that in a year or so we'll have twin toddlers wreaking havoc under our roof. Heaven help us! Thankfully, parents like us can turn to Vicki Iovine, mother of four and author of The Girlfriends' Guide to Pregnancy and The Girlfriends' Guide to Surviving the First Year of Motherhood. Her latest offering is The Girlfriends' Guide to Toddlers, and, like her other books, it's chatty, hilarious, informative, and wise. As the title suggests, Iovine offers the kind of frank, sanity-saving sense you might get (if you're lucky) from a beloved best friend who's already been there.

You've got to love and trust a book that starts out: Frankly, toddlers frighten me. No sugar-coating here; Iovine paints the complete picture of toddlers, full, of course, of joy and magic as well as frustration and fatigue.

Here is everything a parent needs to know about potty-training, binkies, thumb-sucking, discipline, preschool, eating, and, that most precious of words, sleeptime.

All you need is a quick look to understand the unique tone of the Girlfriend Guides. Open any page and you'll get a taste of Iovine's humor and experience. Take, for example, a passage like: Having a toddler in your life is like being stalked. They're in the closet with you, they sit on your lap when you try to use the toilet, they're right between your knees when you run to answer the phone. Just about the only time that a toddler isn't within five inches of you is when there is some mischief calling him away like a siren's song. Yet another wonderful thing about this guide: it not only tells parents how to deal with their offspring, it constantly reminds them how to keep their own sanity, something other books don't always remember. For instance, one of the many amusing Top Ten lists included is Top Ten Things to Do When Your Toddler Drives You Nuts. Iovine suggests Turn the radio on loud and dance. It will shock your toddler into a moment's silence and let you release a little steam. Iovine concludes with the heartening thought that after the years of the terrible ones and twos, things really do get better. Look, she says, if it were easy, no one would need a book like this! I'll drink to that. Twice, I might add.

Alice Cary is a reviewer in Groton, Massachusetts.

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