Best Children’s Books for Father’s Day Roundup

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This year there are more fab Father’s Day books than I’ve ever seen before so I found it rather difficult to narrow down my favorites to just a few.  Here are some of this year’s Father’s Day books I recommend.


Hammer And Nails Book CoverHammer and Nails
Written by Josh Bledsoe
Illustrated by Jessica Warrick
(Flashlight Press; $17.95, Ages 4-8)
Josh Bledsoe wrote this story about my husband, or at least he could have because the father in Hammer and Nails (love the wordplay in this title) has a heart of gold with a touch of pink. When his daughter’s playdate plans fall through, it’s dad to the rescue, declaring a daddy daughter day. The pair agree to trade off on completing their lists of activities they’d intended to do before things changed.

If you’ve ever known a father to play dress up with his daughter and even agree to have his hair and nails done, you’ll find that guy here, bonding beautifully with his child. At the same time, the dad asks his daughter to step outside her comfort zone to pound some nails into loose boards on their fence amongst other chores. “Princess, sometimes things you’ve never done end up being fun. Try it.” Everything about Hammer and Nails is fun and upbeat from Warrick’s silly scene of a laundry fight to daddy and daughter getting down with some celebratory moves. With each new page turn, this book will fill young readers with the joy of experiencing quality and creative time spent with a caring dad.

Beard in a BoxBeard_in_a_Box by Bill Cotter Book Cover
Written and illustrated by Bill Cotter
(Knopf BYR: $17.99, Ages 4-8)
Just when you think you’ve seen every kind of Father’s Day book, Beard in a Box arrives! A boy who is convinced the source of his dad’s coolness and power is his beard, decides it’s time to grow one of his own. Only he can’t, despite multiple imaginative efforts. Lo and behold, what should happen to be on TV while this lad is despairing his lack of facial hair – a commercial touting the amazing kid-tested, dad-approved Beard in a Box from SCAM-O. This simple five-step program appeared to work and there were all kinds of bristles available -from the Beatnik to the Biker, the Lincoln to the Santa. What the commercial failed to say was that after following all the required steps, the user had to wait 10-15 years to see results.

When little dude tells his dad how he was ripped off, he notices his father’s beard is gone. Can that mean his dad has lost his coolness? Maybe not with Cotter’s clever examples proving you can’t judge a dad by his beard! The hilarity of Beard in a Box begins with the cover and continues all the way through to the endorsements from satisfied Beard in a Box customers on the back cover: “Don’t take more than the recommended dose. Trust me on this.” – Bigfoot A not-to-miss new read for Father’s Day or any day you need a good laugh or your child yearns for a five o’clock shadow.

Dad SchoolDad_School book cover
Written by Rebecca Van Slyke
Illustrated by Priscilla Burris
(Doubleday BYR; $16.99, Ages 3-7)
Kids go to school to learn their ABCs so when a little boy’s dad says he also went to school, the youngster figures it had to be Dad school. Van Slyke and Burris have teamed up again after last year’s hit, Mom School, to bring readers a glimpse of all the skills a father must acquire to parent successfully.

“At Dad school, I think they learn how to fix boo-boos, how to mend leaky faucets, and how to make huge snacks …” There is a lot of wonderful humor in both the text and artwork that will not be lost on parents reading the story aloud, especially the parts about dads learning how to multi-talk or their failure to learn how to match clothes, brush hair, and clean the bathroom. Dad School is totally entertaining from start to finish, only I wish it hadn’t ended so soon. I loved the little boy’s imagination and am certain your kids will, too.


Monster_and_Son book coverMonster & Son
Written by David LaRochelle
Illustrated by Joey Chou
(Chronicle Books; $16.99, Ages 2-4)
Here’s a fresh take on Father’s Day, a look at the father/son dynamic from all kinds of monsters’ point of view. Filling the pages of this wild ride are yetis, werewolves, dragons, serpents and skeletons sharing their own special, often “rough and rowdy” type of love.

Chou’s visuals are modern. They feel bold and imaginative with colors perfectly suited for a monstrous read. LaRochelle has written Monster & Son using well-paced rhyme that adds to the various father/son activities featured on every page. Whether stirring up waves for a game of catch or frightening off a knight coming to the aid of a damsel in distress, these monster dads all have one thing in common, and though it may be giant-sized, it undeniably love.


The Most Important Thing: Stories About Sons, Fathers, and GrandfathersThe_Most_Important_Thing by Avi book cover
Written by Avi
(Candlewick Press; $16.99, Ages 10 and up)
This collection of seven short stories is sure to move middle grade readers and make them think about their own relationships with their fathers and grandfathers. According to the jacket flap, what the stories have in common is that they each explore the question: “What is the most important thing a father can do for his son?” Each story features a new character facing a different situation.

Stories flows easily one to the next meaning they can be read in one sitting or just one at a time. I’ve chosen three to highlight here. In the book’s opening story, Dream Catcher, Paul is an 8th grader who feels disconnected from his father. When circumstances require him to spend a week of school break with his estranged grandfather in Denver, Paul begins to understand the demons that have plagued his grandfather and caused the estrangement. Both Paul and his grandfather work together to forge a new relationship leaving the reader with hope that Paul’s father and grandfather may too at last be reconciled.

Beat Up introduces Charlie who has plans to attend a church dance despite a friend’s warning that gangs may be present. Though the dance goes off well, Charlie gets surrounded by a gang then beat up on his way home, only to be chastised by his unforgiving father for having pretended to be hurt and knocked out rather than fighting back and putting himself at greater risk. “Biderbiks don’t cry” is what Charlie’s dad believes, but Charlie is clearly not a coward for having sought a safe solution to his assault. Beat Up is a powerful tale of a son’s courage to speak up in the face of his father’s unjust fury.

Departed deals with the accidental death of Luke’s father before their camping trip that shakes up a family. When what appears to be the father’s ghost remains around the apartment, Luke realizes what he must do with his father’s ashes to set his soul free, and thus come to terms with his father’s passing. While there are not always happy endings, there are certainly realistic, satisfying, and sometimes heart wrenching conclusions offering much to learn from the various young men’s approach to life and the father/son dynamic.

Papa Seahorse’s SearchPapa_Seahorses_Search book cover
by Anita Bijsterbosch
(Clavis; $14.95, Ages 1-4)
A sturdy lift-the-flap counting book about a Papa Seahorse looking everywhere for his missing little seahorse. Numbers introduced range from 1-10 and the cast of characters making appearances behind and in front of the assorted flaps include a colorful puffer fish, sea turtles, angelfish, sea snake, crabs, a sea anemone, jellyfish, octopuses and shrimp. This book will provide interactive fun for pre-schoolers and toddlers alike.


Superhero_Dad by Timothy Knapman book coverSuperhero Dad
Written by Timothy Knapman
Illustrated by Joe Berger
(Nosy Crow; $15.99, Ages 3-7)
Kids will relate to the main character’s über admiration for his father in this rhyming read-aloud, Superhero Dad. Though not a new concept, the idea of a dad who can make a super breakfast though he’s only half awake, or make monsters disappear, is one that is always appealing to children. Coupled with comic book styled artwork, and a definitely cool die-cut cover, this humorous take on what qualities qualify for superhero-dom is a fast paced, fun read that is sure to please for Father’s Day.


Gator DadGator_Dad by Brian Lies book cover
Written and illustrated by Brian Lies
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; $17.99, Ages 4-7)
If you’re looking for something original, this is it. The father in Brian Lies’ Gator Dad knows how to show his kids a good time and that’s evident on every wild and wacky gator-filled page. Intent on squeezing in the most fun a day can offer with his three gator kids, Gator Dad can make roaming aimlessly in the park an adventure, make bath time the best time, and make bed time stories come alive. It’s obvious this dad gains the greatest joy giving his gator-all in everything he does with and for his children.


Additional recommended books include:

Be Glad Your Dad…(Is Not an Octopus!) 
Written by Matthew Logelin and Sara Jensen
Illustrated by Jared Chapman
(Little Brown BYR; $16.99, Ages 2-5)

Tell Me a Tattoo Story
Written by Alison McGhee
Illustrated by Eliza Wheeler
(Chronicle Books; $16.99, Ages 3-5)

  • Reviewed by Ronna Mandel

Tough Guys (Have Feelings Too) by Keith Negley

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Written and illustrated by Keith Negley
(Flying Eye Books; $17.95, Ages 3-5)


In less than 80 words, Tough Guys (Have Feelings Too) manages to convey the important message to children that everyone (except perhaps robots) experiences a wide range of emotions despite any appearances to the contrary. Negley, a well-known illustrator, opens with a wrestler in a locker room feeling nervous while young readers see his opponent waiting in the ring. Then an astronaut is floating in space clutching a photo of his family far, far away. “You might not think it, but tough guys have feelings too.”


Interior artwork from Tough Guys (Have Feelings Too) by Keith Negley, Flying Eye Books ©2015.

Ninja best friends can have a disagreement and feel sad or misunderstood. Superheroes, despite being on top of the world, can feel lonely, cowboys can get embarrassed, pirates searching for treasure can feel frustrated, strong, gallant knights don’t always succeed “No matter how strong.” These and  other examples of “tough guys” we may think never experience a “down” moment are all depicted showing their honest feelings. My favorite illustration, and perhaps one of the most powerful, has to be the big burly biker shedding tears over the squirrel in the road he likely has hit accidentally. The message, that it’s okay to get upset, may not be unique, but the way it’s conveyed to children is. The colorful artwork, coupled with the brief yet befitting narrative, allows parents to open a dialogue about feelings and emotions and the need to be authentic.


Interior artwork from Tough Guys (Have Feelings Too) by Keith Negley, Flying Eye Books ©2015.

Don’t miss pointing out to children the endpapers in the front of the book showing the young boy, who is ultimately seen reading together with his dad at the story’s end, pretending to be all the characters depicted in Tough Guys (Have Feelings Too), and the endpapers in the back of the book showing the same boy doing all that pretend play alongside his dad. Sharing this picture book with preschoolers is a wonderful way to reinforce the point that there is absolutely nothing wrong with having feelings, and that when they do indeed have a feeling of anger, fear, or embarrassment, they’re not alone.

  • Reviewed by Ronna Mandel

The Princess and the Presents by Caryl Hart

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The Princess and the Presents written by Caryl Hart
with illustrations by Sarah Warburton
(Nosy Crow, 2014, $16.99, Ages 3-7)

Princess-and-presents-cvr.jpgOne pampered princess + one over-indulgent king + one birthday celebration = three times the number of presents the palace can hold. The Princess and the Presents, a picture book written by Caryl Hart with illustrations by Sarah Warburton, is an over-the-top funny story that reminds us all of what’s really important in life.

Princess Ruby is as cute as can be in her pink frilly dress, pink shoes, and pink tiara. Her poof of unruly red hair completes her sweet look. But, Princess Ruby is far from sweet. She’s used to always getting her way. She bosses the servants, pushes her dad, and throws temper tantrums when she thinks she hasn’t gotten enough presents.

“But where’s my giant tree house?”
bawled the greedy little tyke.
“you promised me a cell phone,
three puppies, and a bike!”

The palace creaks, groans, and ultimately explodes from the precarious piles and pillars of presents pushing up against its walls. Only then, is Princess Ruby remorseful, as her father is trapped beneath the rubble.

“What have I done?” wailed Ruby.
“The best gift I ever had
is buried in a pile of bricks.
PLEASE! Help me save…my DAD!

Everyone comes to help save the king, who had taken cover in a cardboard box. Ruby miraculously makes the most of the mess, and, as all fairytale princesses do,

Lived happily ever after with her daddy (in a tree).

The palace walls are not all that explode in this book. Warburton uses vivid colors that pop off the pages. I poured over them a number of times relishing the details of her visually pleasing mixed media illustrations.

Interior artwork from The Princess and the Presents by Cary Hart with illustrations by Sarah Warburton, Nosy Crow © 2014.

Cary Hart has a way with rhythm and rhyme. Her words fly easily off the tongue and are sure to elicit a “read it again” response from little ones.

– Reviewed by MaryAnne Locher

Mighty Dads by Joan Holub With Art by James Dean: Book Blast & Rafflecopter Giveaway

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Check Out This Book Blast Giveaway & Rafflecopter
for Mighty Dads by Joan Holub With Art by James Dean

Mighty Dads by Joan Holub and James Dean

About the Book

Title: Mighty Dads | Author: Joan Holub | Illustrator: James Dean| Publication Date: April 29, 2014 | Publisher: Scholastic | Pages: 40 | Recommended Ages: 3+ Summary: A new constructacular picture book from the New York Times bestselling creator of Pete the Cat, James Dean and bestselling author, Joan Holub.

Mighty dads, strong and tall,

help their children, young and small.

They keep them safe and bolted tight

and show them how to build things right.

Inventively told through James Dean’s colorful construction vehicle characters, MIGHTY DADS is an adoring dedication to hardworking fathers and the subtle ways they teach their boys and girls to follow in their tracks. The Dump Trucks learn to get dirty. Crane keeps his little one safe from harm. The busy Cement Mixer gives his daughter a hug. The Forklift cheers his son on. A surprising and touching view of a father’s love for his children, MIGHTY DADS is the perfect way to say: I’m proud of you!  

Book Trailer


Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Book Depository (free worldwide delivery)

Also available at Walmart, Target, and Barnes & Noble stores.

The Buzz

“Like the best 21st-century human dads, the vehicles don’t just show their kids the ropes—they also offer plenty of TLC (“Cement Mixer Busy/ gives a hug if Mixie’s dizzy”) and affirmation (“Forklift Wise/ cheers whenever Forky tries”). Dean’s decision to anthropomorphize the construction equipment solely through a highly stylized, often single, forward-facing eye takes some getting used to—imagine a cross between the Eye of Providence on the dollar bill and a Egyptian hieroglyph. But his construction sign–inspired palette and ability to convey calm, steady affection between parent and progeny quickly outweighs this visual idiosyncrasy, making this a book worthy of any young armchair foreman.” ~ Publisher’s Weekly

“This will make a good read aloud for those looking to update their trucks/machines storytimes.” ~ Goodreads Review

“The simple rhyming text will be fun at read alouds as children can do motions (roll, roll, roll or smooth, smooth, smooth)” ~ Goodreads Review

 About the Author: Joan Holub

Joan Holub author Mighty DadsJoan Holub is co-author of the best-selling Goddess Girls series, the Grimmtastic Girls series, and the Heroes in Training series. Her picture book Little Red Writing received three starred reviews and has been named to many Best-of lists. Her mighty cool dad inspired the creation of the picture book, Mighty Dads.

Website | Twitter | Pinterest | Goodreads | Facebook

About the Illustrator: James Dean

James Dean Author Pete the CatJames Dean is the creator of the best-selling Pete the Cat. Before James started painting Pete the Cat as a full-time profession in 1999, he wanted to paint cars and trucks. He loves things that go, and currently drives a 1971 VW bus camper and a 1959 Chevy truck. He worked as an electrical engineer for fifteen years before he decided to try to make a living with his paintings. James lives with his wife, five cats, and a pug named Little Emma.

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Want a Chance to Win a Copy of “Mighty Dads”?

Be sure to head on over to our review and giveaway of Mighty Dads for your chance to win a copy. Open US/Canada. Ends May 19, 2014. Just click on the cover below. Mighty Dads by Joan Holub and James Dean

* $50 Book Blast Giveaway *

Amazon $50 Gift Card Prize: One winner will receive a $50 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal cash (winner’s choice) Contest ends: May 31, 11:59 pm, 2014 Open: Internationally How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author, Joan Holub and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com. a Rafflecopter giveaway

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