"the lilaguide: baby-friendly seattle & tacoma 2005" OAM Solutions If you like to spend money, "the lilaguide: baby-friendly seattle...

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If you like to spend money, “the lilaguide: baby-friendly seattle & tacoma 2005” might come in handy. As suggested by its subtitle, “New Parent Survival Guide to Shopping, Activities, Restaurants and More,” the emphasis is on retail: stores, haircuts, restaurants.

The book’s hook is that listings, which often include short comments, are based on nearly 3,500 reviews filed by parents on its Web site (www.lilaguide.com). In some cases, this works, especially with consignment or boutique stores and restaurants.

However, parents who assume the book is “in the know” will miss many great local resources. It lists, for example, a whopping four “activities and outings” for Tacoma; Chuck E. Cheese gets a mention but not the Children’s Museum of Tacoma.

It tries to get out of its lack of research by noting that “this guide is not intended to be a comprehensive directory. … Rather, it is intended to provide a short-list of places that your neighbors and friends deemed exciting and newsworthy.”

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Why is every Seattle community center listed but not any on the Eastside? Why is Sammamish’s Pine Lake Park included but not Lake Sammamish State Park? Why is Magnuson Park’s playground listed but not its beach or wading pool? Or finally, why, in an area blessed with baby-friendly beaches, the only Puget Sound beaches featured are Golden Gardens and Carkeek parks?

“the lilaguide: baby-friendly seattle & tacoma 2005”

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Other obvious omissions — such as Redmond’s Farrel-McWhirter Park, free mom-support groups like MOPS or Mothers & More, drop-in indoor play parks and movie-theater cry rooms — are too numerous to detail here.

Free activities also get short shrift in listings. Readers can find out exactly what items stores sell but have to read the comments to figure out whether a park has a beach. Green Lake Park, one of Seattle’s busiest and well-known parks, gets nearly as much space as the alphabetical listing following it, Hiawatha Playfield, which residents outside of West Seattle have probably never visited.

The geographic references make it obvious the book was put together by someone unfamiliar with Seattle (the owners, who are putting out guides for large cities around the country, live in San Francisco).

The Ballard Community Center, for example, is located in “Adams” — it doesn’t even mention Ballard as a neighborhood at all. The gaffes might be amusing for locals, but a tourist would no doubt be puzzled as to why two Seattle Center institutions are placed in different neighborhoods: The Children’s Museum in “East Queen Anne” and the Pacific Science Center in “Lower Queen Anne.”

If parents have any last doubts this guidebook is more about selling than providing information, check out the “personalize” opportunity on its Web site. This lets companies put their logo and “marketing message” on the book’s covers, thus associating “your business with a valuable and trusted source of information.” Or companies can spring for up to 16-page text inserts to promote their products and services in a “marketing message [that] never gets lost and literally becomes part of the lilaguide.”