Find out the latest indie author news. For FREE.


Hello Baby: Building an Oasis in a Play Desert
Debbie Frisch and Isaac Stone Simonelli
“If we can’t heal all the brokenness ourselves,” writes Frisch, the founder of HelloBaby, “we can do a bit of it in our own lives.” As journalist and co-writer Simonelli documents in the first few chapters of this inspirational account, Frisch responded to her unhappy childhood with a mission to make the difficult world she came out of a better place. The “bit” that Frisch elected to change resulted in a major not-for-profit project that provides a play space for babies in a “play desert,” the term for stretches of America where kids’ access to play areas is limited or nonexistent. From her traumatic beginnings, Frisch builds exactly that in the Woodlawn neighborhood of Chicago’s South Side, and she calls it “HelloBaby.”

As Frisch and Simonelli point out, play deserts do not come about due to any incompetence on the part of parents; “entrenched racism, de facto segregation, the deterioration of the nuclear family, and generational histories of trauma” and more institutional inequities contribute to communities’ inadequate resources for children’s play. Frisch addresses with insight and sensitivity the dynamics of a white woman working with communities that are predominantly Black and Latino, and her commentary on systemic racism and her own mission to combat the white savior complex is its own act of antiracism that brings critical awareness and integrity to Frisch’s book and organization.

Frisch and Simonelli’s debut also functions as a how-to guide on building a successful not-for-profit organization with key takeaways at the end of most chapters and plentiful resources in the book’s back matter, but its central focus is a narrative that explores the necessity of play for babies and the journey of one driven mother to address the fact that “love alone is not enough” for kids to “build [a] strong foundation for lifelong learning and success.” Readers curious about community organizing and the sociological and scientific importance of play will find Frisch’s guide to be a valuable resource.

Takeaway: Founder of baby play space HelloBaby reveals what it takes to enact community change.

Comparable Titles: Jill Vialet’s Why Play Works, Leslie Crutchfield and Heather McLeod Grant’s Forces for Good, Jamie Schumacher’s It’s Never Going to Work.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: A
Editing: A-
Marketing copy: A