Tell Me a Tattoo Story

illus. by Eliza Wheeler. 32p. Chronicle. Apr. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781452119373.
PreS-Gr 1—This is a story about how a young boy learns all about his father's life when he asks to see his tattoos. McGhee sets the stage for a fun read. The boy, "little man," first wants to hear about the dragon tattoo on his dad's right shoulder. The text explains that this winged creature is from a favorite childhood book. An accompanying illustration shows a picture of Dad as a young child sitting on his mom's lap in a country pasture underneath laundry flapping in the breeze, while listening intently to the book. The pen-and-ink illustrations look like they could be tattoos. Wheeler adeptly captures Dad's special family bonds. His forearm bears the mantra "Be Kind." The accompanying illustration shows Dad as a young boy with his father rescuing a baby bird that fell from its nest. Artwork complements the story well. Text is simple and lends itself to discussion. The story continues with the milestones in Dad's life via the tattoos. On his right upper arm, Dad has an intricate pattern that includes flowers, marking the importance of meeting his wife (the boy's mom). Another design on his side represents service overseas in the military. Of course, there is a tiny little heart with a date, which not surprisingly marks his son's birthday. The tattoos tell a story about the life of a father who loves his family.
VERDICT The tender story will resonate with young audiences. The cultural relevance of the tattoo phenomena is a plus.

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