Two great picks put the focus on fathers
It's Father's Day and what better way to usher it in than with two new picture books celebrating the relationship between a father and his children.
"There, There" (2013, Templar Books, illustrated by Ivan Bates, ages 2-6) is a new book written by popular author Sam McBratney. Young readers will connect with playful, yet somewhat clumsy Hansie Bear. Hansie loves to pretend, but when he pretends to walk like a duck, he falls into a ditch and hurts his knee. "There, there," his father says soothingly, giving Hansie a hug.
When Hansie gets sand in his eyes while digging a hole, his Dad, still close by, picks him up and soothes him again. "There, there. Do blinkety-blink like this, and you'll soon be better." And he was.
However, later that afternoon, Hansie sees his father walking slowly back home, after stepping on a thorn. Dad, holding his foot, says "my goodness is it sore." As Hansie watches his mom pull out the thorn, he gets an idea. He gave his dad a big, tight hug and says, "There, there, we'll be all right now."
"And so they were," the story ends. Bates' mixed-media illustrations in this large book show the warmth, playfulness and loving connection between the father and son and populate the story with many forest friends.
"Daddy's Zigzagging Bedtime Story" (2014, Disney-Hyperion, written by Alan Lawrence Sitomer, illustrated by Abby Carter, ages 3-7) will please and amuse slightly older readers as Daddy rounds up his two "little Pickle Quackers" for a bedtime story. His children, however, they quickly proclaim that all the books he chooses are "Bor-ring" or "Older than a dinosaur egg," so finally Daddy decides to invent a story of his own.
"Once upon a time there was a pretty little princess," he begins. The bright, active watercolor illustrations show the boy, Jake's dejection and his sister Jenny's joy.
Daddy continues, "who drove a MONSTER truck!!" Now happiness lights up Jake's face and Jenny sighs.
In lines designed to alternately please his son and daughter, the story progresses to include a battle with Zorgon the fire-burper, the leader of the evil space aliens of doom. The princess, of course, wins this battle with the help of an enchanted unicorn who bakes vanilla cupcakes and a "black-belt ballet-slipper spinning thermonuclear side rumple-dumple kick."
By the end of this intense, enchanting story, both kids are wide-eyed, having forgotten anything about gender preferences. "Daddy, can you tell us one more story," "Please, please, PLEEEEASE!" they beg. This book captures dad's progression as he tackles the bedtime story in mother's absence, going from slight awkwardness with the task to confidence, connection, silliness and love.
Happy Father's Day, all of you fathers out there. And happy reading.
Alice B. McGinty (alicebmcginty.com), is the co-regional adviser of the Illinois Chapter of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators and the award-winning author of more than 40 books for children. She directs a summer writing camp, Words on Fire, for teens, and she tutors school-age children in writing.