Friday, June 26, 2015

Definitely Dads (FAMILY magazine reviews)

It’s summertime and the stories are easy and hard. Both Dads and Moms are important in reassuring your child(ren) that s/he/they are/is loved. Here are just a few of the many grand books available to satisfy a child’s curiosity and comfort her/his doubts. Make sure there is enough time to talk about celebrations, answer questions, and have a good time together.

My Dad 
by Anthony Browne
            Award winning author-illustrator Browne adapts his characteristic minimal language and tenderly imaginative colored pencil and wash painting style for this clever tribute to dads everywhere. Beginning with “He’s all right, my dad,” which repeats several times through the story for emphasis, the child narrator shows how brave, strong and wise is “my dad.”
            Also recurring is a tan/brown/yellow plaid, first shown as a bathrobe on an ordinary-looking man, drinking coffee. The humorous story includes dad balancing on a tightrope, winning a race, dancing, singing, and playing soccer. However, when he eats like a horse, or swims like a fish, he is recognizable as the animals because he’s wearing the plaid bathrobe.
            In a perfect ending, “he makes me laugh. A lot,” the child is wrapped in daddy’s arms, “HE LOVES ME! (And he always will.)” This merry, playful picture book is for families to enjoy together.

Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $17.99 
Interest Level: Pre-Kindergarten – Grade 2 
(This book may be purchased from local and online booksellers.)

Yard Sale 
by Eve Bunting 
illustrated by Lauren Castillo
            Nearly everything Callie’s family owns is spread across the front yard – furniture, potted flowers, even her bicycle. Her family is moving to a small apartment.            
Readers watch with Callie as people pick through her family’s belongings. Someone buys her bed for less money because of the crayon marks Callie made on the headboard – she made them to keep track of how many times she read Goodnight Moon.
She and her friend Sara try to understand why Callie’s family needs to leave – “something to do with money.” Callie’s anger is swift and strong when a man loads her bike into his truck and Dad hurries over.
But Callie’s fear is real when a smiling woman comments on how cute Callie is, and asks, “Are you for sale?” The ink and watercolor paintings show Callie’s distress, the friendship between her and Sara, the kind expression on the face of the man buying her bicycle. They gently accompany this tough, sometimes heartbreaking tale.
Callie’s parents circle her with their loving arms as they reassure her. Ultimately, as the three return to the almost empty house, she realizes, “we don’t really need anything we’ve sold. …. We will fit in our new place.” This is a graceful, vital storybook of a family in transition.

Candlewick, $15.99 
Interest Level: Pre-Kindergarten – Grade 2 
(This book may be purchased from local and online booksellers.)

and tango makes three 
by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
illustrated by Henry Cole
            New York City’s Central Park Zoo is known for hosting children and their families, who go there to visit the animal families. Also famous are the penguin families, especially Roy and Silo, two boy penguins who do everything together – bowing to each other, walking together, singing to each other, swimming together.           The two watched girl and boy penguin pairs build nests of stones for themselves. So, Roy and Silo did this too. Roy even found a rock that looked like what the other penguins are hatching into baby penguins. He and Silo took turns sitting on the “egg” (really a rock). “But nothing happened.”
The penguin keeper, who cares for the penguins and has been watching Roy and Silo, discovers a neglected egg. When he brings it to their nest, “Roy and Silo know just what to do.”
The watercolor illustrations highlight expressions and penguin body language. Using double page spreads and a range of smaller individual illustrations, the artist skillfully companions with the authors’ deceptively simple text to stir readers’ hearts with the warmth of family.
Roy and Silo’s commitment to keep the egg warm eventually joyfully produces Tango, the first penguin in the zoo to have two daddies. An Author’s Note at the end supplies background for this true story.

Simon & Schuster, $17.99 
Interest Level: Junior Kindergarten – Grade 3 
(This book is available purchase from local and online booksellers.)

More Books for Fun

Tad and Dad 
by David Ezra Stein
Penguin, $16.99 
Interest Level: Pre-Kindergarten – Grade 1  
(This book may be purchased from local and online booksellers.)

The Baby Tree 
by Sophie Blackall
Penguin, $17.99 
Interest Level: Junior Kindergarten - Grade 2 
(This book is available to purchase from local and online booksellers.)

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