Friday, June 8, 2012

Hugs are NOT Just for Dads (FAMILY magazine reviews)

Let’s get ready for Father’s Day with a few of the new books available to show our love.  What we do with and for our daddys is often a mirror of Dad’s actions with his children.  As we create memories for the future, we want also to honor the best in the past, holding a special place in our hearts for times we treasure with Dad. 

When Dads Don’t Grow Up 
by Marjorie Blain Parker
illustrated by R. W. Alley
Dial, $16.99, Ages 4-6

            Kids are lucky who have dads like the ones in this list book -- these dads know how much fun it is to pop bubble wrap and watch cartoons.  And they don’t worry about looking silly -- see the dunk tank picture -- or wearing mismatched clothes.  While not actually a story, the engaging text nevertheless, leads readers into an ode to fathers; especially papas who take every opportunity to be with their offspring in sometimes silly, but always loving, circumstances. 
            Featured in the paintings, several dads reappear throughout the book in an assortment of adventures.  Although the book is charming and does not suffer in quality from the lack, it is disappointing to note that all but one of the dad/kid combinations are light skinned.  The text itself clearly allows for a range of cultural representations, and more cultural variety would have both enriched the reader’s experience, and extended the potential audience.  
            Humorous, energetic language is companioned by laugh-out-loud illustrations, lending a comic quality to the paintings done with pen and ink, watercolor and colored pencil.  And the font makes for easy reading, changing at times from large to smaller, italic and even giant size, for emphasis.  This is a great lap-book and makes a strong bid for repetitive readings without boredom.

Big Hugs, Little Hugs 
by Felicia Bond
Philomel, $16.99, Ages 2-4

            Well-loved author/illustrator Bond, best known for her series of books beginning with If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, has extended her artistic reach in these appealing illustrations.  Making strategic use of colorful handmade paper enhanced by pen and ink line drawings, Bond shows a range of hugs.
            Beginning with “Everyone hugs all over the world,” Bond samples animals, both known and less familiar – cats, dogs and bears – also dinosaurs, bats and penguins – and moves from naming hugging animals to naming and showing animals in paired opposite settings – upstairs/downstairs, inside/outside, day/night in another successful list book. 
            The conclusion circles back around to repeat the beginning phrase; this time illustrated by an earth, surrounded by groups of hugging animals in a picture book that goes well beyond Father’s Day to include the entire planet in a sphere of loving hugs.  Perfect for bedtime.

 The Night Before Father’s Day 
by Natasha Wing
illustrated by Amy Wummer
 Grosset & Dunlap, $3.99, Ages 3-5

            Using the Christmas poem by Clement Moore as her guide, author Wing has written a clever take off for Father’s Day in this newest book from her series based on the Night Before.  While Dad goes for a bike ride, the kids and Mom clean out the garage and wash the car, as part of a gift that includes a homemade card and breakfast in bed the next morning.
            Artist Wummer has chosen cheery primary colors for her animated watercolor wash and colored pencil illustrations.  The active paintings show family members busy at work, making order from chaos and dirt.
            Dad is appropriately pleased and surprised, laughing at the card details, and inviting everyone for a Sunday ride in the newly clean car as a conclusion to a Happy Father’s Day. 

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