One day my mummy found me crying in my room.
‘What’s wrong, Tina?’ she asked.
‘Today in class,’ I sobbed, ‘Miss Jones asked us all,
‘What does your daddy do?’
Tina is sad. When Miss Jones asked about what daddies do, she didn’t want to answer. Everyone else’s dad seemed to have a glamorous or important job and she is embarrassed to answer. The question seems to become a competition about who’s dad is the most important or popular or glamorous. But when she tells Mum, Tina is reminded of all the things that really make dads important. Vilma Cencic has drawn all the characters as Australian animals. There is abundant white space and the font is large, easy to read and child-like. The cover shows a proud Tina talking to the class.
A simple question doesn’t always have a simple answer. Tina is overwhelmed by the grand jobs other daddies do. Initially she pretends her daddy is just as glamorous, and is an astronaut. But others tell what her dad really does and she is embarrassed. At home, Mum helps her to remember the most important job daddies can do – being father to their children. The message here is very clear but gently handled. Fathers are important because of their fathering, not their jobs. Rendering the characters as animals keeps the story light and entertaining. Small children can often be caught in an escalating cycle of exaggeration and the first half of What Does Your Daddy Do? uses this to good effect. The pace changes then as Mum comforts her child and brings her back to understanding true value. Another title perfect for Father’s Day, particularly for 3-6 year olds.
What Does Your Daddy Do?, Gordon Reece Ill Vilma Cencic
Lothian Books, 2009
This book can be purchased online at Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.
review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author
My dad’s a wrestler!
Not the famous kind, though…
My Dad’s a Wrestler! is a paperback picture book. A small boy describes his father and his father’s wrestling career. Dad is not the most successful wrestler in wrestling history but he perseveres and his son is enormously proud. The text is deadpan and delivered in a plain font at the bottom of each page. In contrast, the images are full of energy as the reader is introduced to Dad and the challenges he faces. No matter how down Dad gets about his lack of success, his son is there to cheer him on.
My Dad’s a Wrestler! is a humorous look at the relationship between a father and son. Even when Dad wins at his wrestling matches, and that isn’t often, people ‘boo’ because he’s supposed to be the baddie. Dad works hard and wrestles in the evening. His son knows Dad’s wins are few and far between, but he’s in the stands anyway cheering loudly. The boy, telling the story in first person, clearly has an incurable case of hero worship. The illustrations show an enormous Dad barely contained by his wrestling suit. His face stubble is anything but stylish and his permanently battered body seems about to fall apart. Illustration colours are often almost sepia as if looking back at old photos. The final image, depicting the depth of the son’s hero-worship is the brightest of all. A funny offbeat story, recommended for those looking for a less twee Father’s Day book.
My Dad’s a Wrestler!, Matt Zurbo Ill Dean Gorissen
Lothian Books 2009
This book can be purchased online at Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews. review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author
Mummy thinks that daddies are for washing dishes.
That’s NOT what daddies are for!
It seems that lots of people have the wrong idea about daddies. Mum has an idea, sister Charlotte has an idea. Even Grandma has an idea. But they are wrong, wrong, wrong! Daddies are for wild things. Daddies are for the fun things, the push-the-boundaries things, the exciting things. Catriona Hoy takes the reader on a wild journey through the wonderful things that make daddies so very special. Daddy sometimes looks like he’s on a roller coaster journey, destination unknown. This doesn’t for a minute diminish his energy or enthusiasm.
Children develop different relationships with all the people in their lives, and that includes family. Parents may stand together to present a united front on some matters, but still the father-child relationship will be a different one to the mother-child one. Catriona Hoy provides a joyous and loving look at the strengths of the wonderful relationship between father and child. Mal Webster’s humourous illustrations show a range of perspectives and angles as father and children romp through the pages. Text tips and tumbles around the action. Rooms distort to contain the characters and their exuberance. Daddies is a portrait-format, paper back with an informal text type that hints at the story tone within. Recommended for 3-7 year olds.
Daddies, Catriona Hoy and Mal Webster
Lothian Books 2008
Animal dads show their special tricks in this book for the very young. Rhino’s dad is ‘tough and strong’ and able to lift heavy rocks. He’s well able to protect his child. Rhino and other animals show their ‘dad’ side in this simple and humorous rhyming text. Father and child share special times and the illustrations show the special smiles on every opening. Openings show the animals in their environments, from grasslands, through underwater, to a cave.
Dads is a sturdy hardback with lift-the-flap pages. It follows Mums, Bums, Toes and Tails from the same author/illustrator partnership. Like these other titles, Dads has a bright and appealing cover with characters sitting in a single-colour background, with title letters all in different colours. Alternate pages fold up and fold down, to reveal the special-ness of each dad. Warm colour floods each page, drawing the reader into the different worlds. The worlds might be different, but the relationship is the same. There is a strong sense of safety and fun shared. Recommended for preschoolers.
Dads, by David Bedford and Leonie Worthington
Little Hare Books, 2007
Other titles in this series:
My dad…lets me dance on his feet.
My grandad…rides with me on his old scooter.
There is a range of dads and grandads in these two books as well as a range of children – but the important focus of both books is that of the child sharing time with one of the men in his/her life.
Each double page spread shows the child on the left hand page and the thing s/he does with his grandad or dad on the right hand page, partially concealed by a large flap. Some of the things shared are everday – My dad…helps me brush my teeth – while others are more adventurous (like riding on Grandad’s scooter).
It is lovely to see books which celebrate grandads and dads, and especially pleasing to see grandad reading stories to one of the children. The books might even encourage dads or grandads who don’t share books with their kids to do so – an important but sometimes missed part of early literacy.
Both books are alive with the colour always present in Rowe’s books. Lovely.
My Dad and My Grandad, by Jeannette Rowe
ABC Books, 2004