November 17, 2017

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My Daddy Rules the World: Poems About Dads by Hope Anita Smith | SLJ Review

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redstarSMITH, Hope Anita. My Daddy Rules the World: Poems About Dads. illus. by Hope Anita Smith. 32p. Holt/Christy Ottaviano Bks. May 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780805091892.

STAR-NF-Smith-MyDaddyRulestheWorldPreS-Gr 3 –Dedicated to “every man ‘fathering’ a child,” this volume spotlights the bond between dads and their kids. Written in a child’s voice, the poems depict dads snoring, making breakfast, giving a haircut or guitar lesson, wrestling, playing catch, teaching a child to ride a bike, and reading. “Love Letter” is about writing to a military dad abroad: “My daddy—/he is far away./I wish him home/most every day.” The one exception to the child-narrated voice is the call-and-response poem “Daddy!,” which prompts listeners with questions: “Who do you like? Who do you love?/Daddy!/Who do you wrestle? Who do you shove?/ Daddy!…. Who shows you the world from the top of his head?/Daddy!/Who tells you a story and puts you to bed?/Daddy!” The final selection, also the title poem, describes a near-perfect dad: “He helps me with my homework/and always gets it right./He teaches me ‘most of the time,/it’s better not to fight.’/…. Whenever I have a problem,/he knows just what to do:/‘In order to solve anything,/be honest, kind, and true.’ ” The torn-paper collage illustrations depict faceless children and their dads sharing special moments together. The youngsters are boys and girls with a variety of skin and hair colors, thus representing every child—if only every child could have a father as loving and attentive as the ones portrayed in this book. The poems are accessible and a true celebration of fatherhood. Pair with Javaka Steptoe’s award-winning In Daddy’s Arms I Am Tall, another work of poetry and collage on the same subject. VERDICT A lovely addition to poetry collections that may just inspire kids to write verse of their own.–Barbara Auerbach, New York City Public Schools

This review was published in the School Library Journal April 2017 issue.

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