March 19, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

5 Picture Books Celebrating Dads (and Granddads)

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While there’s no shortage of mommy love in contemporary picture books, fathers are featured far less frequently. It’s heartening to see so many warm and tender titles with male-focused parent-and-child
interactions that celebrate those special bonds as well.

Bonnet, Rosalinde. Daddy Honk Honk! illus. by Rosalinde Bonnet. 32p. Dial. May 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780399186769.

PB-SP-Bonnet-Daddy Honk Honk!PreS –When Aput, an arctic fox, finds a goose egg on the tundra, he becomes an instant father. As soon as the adorable chick hatches, her first words are “Daddy Honk Honk!” Aput is not sure he knows how to raise the wee gosling, so he goes in search of a foster family. Mama lemming has no room but gives Aput a tiny striped hat to keep the little one warm. Lily the rabbit offers some food, and Nanouk the yoga-practicing bear recommends lots of sleep for babies. As Aput and the gosling’s journey together progresses, the fox takes in all of the advice and starts to delight in his paternal role. Bonnet’s winsome watercolor illustrations show the energetic hatchling perched on Aput’s tail while the fox cooks in the kitchen. At the end of the day, the pair snuggle in a rocking chair and enjoy a bedtime story. Under the northern lights, Aput and friends name his new baby Aurora, and they joyfully celebrate her birth. VERDICT Perfect for Father’s Day, this sweet tale shows how love makes a family. A great choice for one-on-one and small group sharing.–Linda Ludke, London Public Library, Ont.

Brun-Cosme, Nadine. Daddy Long Legs. tr. from French. illus. by Aurélie Guillerey. 26p. Kids Can. May 2017. Tr $15.95. ISBN 9781771383622.

DaddyLongLegs_2567_HC.inddPreS-K –It’s time for Matthew to go to kindergarten, but the old green car has trouble starting. Finally, it gets going, and Matthew and his dad zip down the road to school, but in parting, Matthew asks, “What if, this afternoon, the old green car doesn’t start?” Daddy lays out alternative plans. He’ll arrive on the neighbor’s red tractor, on the back of Matthew’s large teddy bear, or via a big green dragon, among other preposterous possibilities. At last he concedes that if all else fails, he will run as fast as his two long legs will carry him to be at Matthew’s side in the afternoon. In this imaginative story, a dad calms his son’s fears with fanciful replies. The artwork is bright, with cute animals and typical countryside backgrounds. The cheerful, uncomplicated retro illustrations offer broad appeal. VERDICT A sweet French import about an imaginative dad cleverly pacifying his son’s worries. A worthy addition for most libraries.–Gaye Hinchliff, King County Library System, WA

Cacciapuoti, Aurora. Baking with Dad. illus. by Aurora Cacciapuoti. 32p. Child’s Play. Mar. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781846437557; pap. $7.99. ISBN 9781846437540.

PB-SP-Cacciapuoti-Baking with DadPreS-Gr 2 –A wide-eyed, red-haired child announces with glee that today is the day to bake with Dad. The ingredients are gathered, and the adventures (and baking) start with flying eggs, mixing, shaking, and clouds of flour. Once the decoration creation begins, readers understand that today is more than just a baking day—it’s a party day! Cacciapuoti starts the story even before the first page with a delightful spread featuring colored pencil illustrations of ingredients for baking with a few not-so-edible additions, such as spiders, socks, and snails. The final party scene shows a diverse group of adults and children dancing and enjoying all of the preparations. The book closes with another unique spread of illustrations, which serves as a prologue to the cleanup after baking and celebrating. An added sweet treat for readers—the family cat is pictured throughout, reacting to joyful chaos, sheltering under an umbrella from a shower of sugar, and glancing nervously at the goings-on. VERDICT A nice storytime addition to spark conversations about process, baking, and birthdays.–­Karen Ginman, BookOps: The New York Public Library and Brooklyn Public Library

Davis, Jacky & David Soman. Ladybug Girl’s Day Out with Grandpa. illus. by David Soman. 40p. Dial. May 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780803740327. POP

PB-SP-Davis-LadybugGirl's Day Out with GrandpaPreS-Gr 1 –There is something magical about the curiosity of a preschooler. Just about everything is interesting; their minds are wide open, waiting to embrace new knowledge. In the latest installment of the popular series, Ladybug Girl embodies this insatiable curiosity. She is visiting the natural history museum with her grandfather. Ladybug Girl is excited about so many exhibits—from dinosaurs to elephants to emeralds—that she flits from one to the next, just like a ladybug. Although her grandfather tries to tell her to take her time and be still in order to learn more, Ladybug Girl isn’t able to heed his advice until she discovers the butterfly room. It is a magical moment when she slows down enough to allow a butterfly to land on her, and she whispers, “I can fly too…. I am Ladybug Girl.” The child’s vibrant personality and exuberance shine through the sweet story and the charming illustrations. Soman uses natural tones, mostly in browns and blues, to depict the exhibits in the museum, allowing Ladybug Girl, in her red costume, to be the star of every page. This book highlights the joy children feel when sharing a special day with a beloved relative, without their parents around. VERDICT A wonderful addition to the series for one-on-one and small group sharing.–Sally James, South Hillsborough Elementary School, Hillsborough, CA

Reynolds, Luke. If My Love Were a Fire Truck: A Daddy’s Love Song. illus. by Jeff Mack. 32p. Doubleday. Apr. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781101937402.

PB-SP-Reynolds-If My Love Were a Fire TruckPreS-Gr 1 –As a dad tucks his son in for the night, the toy fire truck the boy cradles inspires a rhyming song about all the ways a father’s love keeps a son safe and happy, wherever they may be. “If my love were a knight’s big shield,/it would fight any dragon’s flame./And if my love were a lion’s roar,/it would thunder across the plain.” The mixed-media scenes show the boy and his dad floating in space, surfing in the ocean, and finding treasure while scuba diving. They race cars, ride horses, and wave to the monkeys while on a safari. Everything they do, they do together, even falling asleep. The colorful art is simple and engaging. VERDICT This bedtime story reassures and entertains. A guaranteed hit for vehicle lovers.–Tanya Boudreau, Cold Lake Public Library, Alta.

Luann Toth About Luann Toth

Luann Toth ( is Managing Editor of SLJ Reviews. A public librarian by training, she has been reviewing books for a quarter of a century and continues to be fascinated by the constantly evolving, ever-expanding world of publishing.

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