You Be Daddy (Karla Clark)

Hello, friends! Our book today is You Be Daddy, written by Karla Clark and illustrated by Steph Lew, a natural companion title to Clark’s previous book, You Be Mommy.

As with You Be Mommy, a tired parent – a father this time – jokingly mentions how exhausted he is, and makes a request of his youngest child: “Can you be Daddy?”. Gamely, his young song runs his father a bubble bath (with fun bath toys, of course), then builds a bedtime fort for two. As the two prepare for “Daddy’s” bedtime, Dad recounts the busy, taxing day he had: crazy traffic, cooking, cleaning up messes, paying bills, and making time for play. His youngest son is happy to make sure he is tucked in with a cuddly stuffie and a warm nightlight, taking care of dad just the way that dad takes care of him… until the little boy needs to put into his own bed, of course. Then Dad does what dads do, and finds the energy to make sure his kiddo is taken care of.

Very sweet. As with You Be Mommy, the concept of switching the parent-child roles during bedtime is done with humor and affection, creating a playful moments between a fictional father and child that readers can identify with. It also gives young readers a glimpse into all that parents do for their kids during the day, creating empathy for when their own parents might be a little worn out before bedtime. Lew’s illustrations are lovely, giving warmth and charm to the characters with details like the son’s clear love of dinosaurs, as well as visual representations of the family’s Chinese heritage within their home. There are also clues within the artwork that, unlike You Be Mommy, this is a two-parent household; this doesn’t detract from the quality of the story, but does feel like a missed opportunity to represent single fathers, who are a marginalized demographic in kidlit. Otherwise, the length is perfect for a bedtime book, and JJ loved the artwork and gentle story. This would make a great read for any father and child to share, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

Dad: The Man, The Myth, The Legend (Mifflin Lowe)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Dad: The Man, The Myth, The Legend, written by Mifflin Lowe and illustrated by Dani Torrent, a fun tribute to the unique awesomeness of dads.

A young bespectacled boy welcomes the reader by proudly presenting the one, the only – his Dad! A man of practically supernatural strength, genius intellect, the courage of a lion and a heart of pure gold. He does all manner of incredible things; for instance last week, when he saved the boy from the attack of a massive jungle python (afterwards necessitating the purchase of a new garden hose). He makes the boy’s favorite dinner: spaghetti with M&M’s, chocolate sauce and potato chips (Mom’s on standby with the takeout menu, no reason why). He can even FLY (sure, technically on a trampoline… that he technically broke during his landing). But perhaps best of all, he’s supportive, encouraging, nurturing, and an all-around great dad – and truly, that’s all he needs to be a hero in his son’s eyes.

Very sweet. Beginning with a comedically grandiose version of “superhero” dad, this sweet tale unfolds with humor and fondness, gradually moving past the more er, exaggerated escapades of Dad to the simple and sweet things that show his devotion to his family (a personal favorite was a scene in which the son, devastated by an embarrassingly bad haircut, is cheered up by his father proudly getting a matching one). There are plenty of nudges and winks to adults that make this a great tale for old and young bookworms to share, and the charming mid-century-inspired art is packed with personality. The length was fine for a storytime, and JJ enjoyed the family’s antics. A delightful ode to an everyday superhero, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved.

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

Three Squeezes (Jason Pratt)

Hello, friends! We’re back after our move to share a beautiful tale with you. Our book today is Three Squeezes, written by Jason Pratt and illustrated by Chris Sheban, a touching ode to the love between a father and child.

As a baby naps on a blanket in the grass, his father gently takes his hand and gives it three soft squeezes. This becomes a ritual between dad and his boy as the baby grows into a toddler, then a child, then a teen, and eventually a man with a family of his own. Offering comfort through nightmares, broken bones, little league losses, and the death of his faithful dog, these three squeezes – in the form of a hand held or a close embrace – become a secret language between the two, until the dad has become elderly and immobile. And on the final page, as their relationship has come full circle, the meaning of the three squeezes is translated for the reader as well: “I love you.”

A treasure. This gorgeously written and illustrated tale is as warm and comforting as a parent’s loving hug. The gently flowing rhymes are simple and earnest, yet manage to weave in some beautiful symbolism about the cycle of life, from infancy to old age, and how the bonds we make with our loved ones fill it. The art is soft and delicate yet carries equal depth, such as the juxtaposition between a child’s first steps and their graduation walk, or the subtle foreshadowing of the frailty of one’s later years. The length is perfect, and JJ and I both loved it. A perfectly heartwarming tale of fatherly love that just may bring a tear to your eye, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

My Papa Is A Princess (Doug Cenko)

(Due to unforeseen circumstances, we were unable to post last night’s review. Sorry for the delay!)

Hello, friends! Our book today is My Papa Is A Princess by Doug Cenko, a heartwarming look at the many things a father can be.

The reader is introduced to the papa-daughter duo by the unnamed child narrator: “My Papa is…”. He’s a racecar driver, an art collector, a hair stylist, a master chef. Each example is shown in the fantastical image through his child’s eyes followed by the reality – playing with toy cars on the floor, admiring a collection of crayon drawings, braiding his child’s pigtails, and cooking a meal – all as a pair. But the best thing Papa is? He’s Papa!

This was wonderful! I loved the mixture of father-child (the youngster appears to be a little girl, but this is subtly never defined) activities: some are masculine, some are feminine, and both characters are clearly enjoying their time together regardless. The illustrations are warm and loving, with both versions of the various “jobs” being a treat to compare. The text is simple and sweet, making for a quick yet easily repeated read. And clearly, JJ was a fan. This is a fantastic story for daddies and their own little bookworms to share, and we loved it. Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

Pet Dad (Elanna Allen)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Pet Dad by Elanna Allen, the story of a stubborn little girl and her equally stubborn dad.

Plum wants nothing more than a pet of her own. Her dad, however, wants nothing more than NO pets. So Plum decides to make do with what she’s got, and declares her dad to be her pet, renaming him Schnitzel. She attempts to feed him yard clippings (which resemble his boring grown-up salad) and paper train him (he prefers to READ the paper during potty time instead), but is met with his stubborn refusal at every turn. A day at the park is met with more conflict when Plum demands he “fetch” her an ice cream cone, and is instead punished with a time-out for her behavior. Given time to think, Plum realizes her training error: she never gave her “pet” a reward. And there’s not reward that pet dads like more than a hug.

Very mixed feelings. For one, the illustrations were so cute – Plum and her dad are both immensely expressive and endearing, and I loved the creative typesets for key dialogue and concepts. There’s also a sweet message about manners in there as well, but I don’t know. Overall, the story felt too odd to me. There was something very uncomfortable about a little girl pulling her shocked father on his hands and knees, using his necktie as a leash. And while I realize that the intent was to show children that it’s necessary to be polite and not overbearing on their parents, the message that hugs are “rewards” also hit a strangely sour note for me as well. Hugs should be given because they are wanted, not as a commodity or to get one’s way. It’s a shame, because the art is so precious, and the length is fine, but even JJ seemed puzzled with Plum’s behavior. Overall, not for us.