Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day

I'm posting a little last minute, but we should celebrate dads tomorrow, too, and every day!

Dad and Pop: An Ode to Fathers and Stepfathers
Dad and Pop: An Ode to Fathers and Stepfathers
By Kelly Bennett
Illustrated by Paul Meisel
Candlewick Press, 36 pages
$15.99, ages 4 to 8

This sweet book demonstrates that love is not finite; a kid can love her stepdad without being disloyal to her original father. It doesn't say that in so many words, just fun pictures and simple, comparative words.
"To meet them, you'd think Dad and Pop were as different as two fathers could be."
One takes pictures, one naps. One's into gadgets; the other likes plants. One plays sports with the girl; the other plays board games with her. They both love music, but the pictures show that one likes classical and the other rock. They both like biking, one motorcycles, the other pedal-powered.
But "in the most important way they are exactly the same – they both love me!" the girl declares.
It's a great book for kids that aren't in traditional two-parent families.

Stars Above Us
Stars Above Us
By Geoffrey Norman
Illustrated by E.B. Lewis
Putnam, 32 pages
$16.99, ages 4 to 8

Not all children have their daddies nearby this Father’s Day. Some are far away in dangerous places as in Stars Above Us, a tender father-daughter story.  As the story begins, Amanda’s father helps her deal with her fear of the dark by taking her outside at night and showing her nighttime magic – stars and fireflies.  Then he glues glow-in-the-dark stars to her ceiling to bring some of the magic indoors. When he’s shipped off to the other side of the world with the military, she looks up at the North Star on the ceiling – their star – and wishes for it to bring him home soon. Before he does come home, Amanda and her mother prepare a celestial surprise for him.  Despite a little clunky writing, this is a comforting story for youngsters in similar situations. And it’s beautifully illustrated by E.B. Lewis.

My Father Knows the Names of Things
By Jane Yolen
Illustrated by St├ęphane Jorisch
Simon and Schuster, 32 pages
$15.99, ages 4 to 8

It’s a wonderful thing to be a parent who knows it all. Enjoy it. It lasts until your children are about 10 if you’re lucky.  A lilting new tale by veteran kids author Jane Yolen celebrates that charmed time. The young protagonist’s dad seemingly knows the name of everything, dogs, cheeses, birds, seven shades of blue, human bones, cats, candies – and which soaps make you cleanest. Best of all, “he points out everything we see and teaches all the names to me.”  Sweet with lively, happy illustrations by St├ęphane Jorisch.

Your Daddy Was Just Like You
By Kelly Bennett
Illustrated by David Walker
Putnam, 32 pages
$16.99, ages 3 to 8

Grandma’s tells this story to her grandson. It’s divided into vignettes from her son’s babyhood to boyhood, each ending with the refrain, “just like you.”
“Most days your daddy was my sweet boy. But some days he turned into a wild thing. … He fumed. And fussed. On those days, your daddy was sent to TIME-OUT . Just like you.”
It ends sweetly with grandma kissing the dad’s cheek and saying the dad is still her baby. (That part’s reminiscent of “I’ll Love You Forever,” without the super-ick factor of the mother crawling through her son’s window in the middle of the night.)  Children love hearing true stories about when their parents were little. This can serve as a jumping off point. Great pictures by David Walker.


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