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Kids Book Review – Best Father’s Day Picture Books 2019

BEST FATHER’S DAY PICTURE BOOKS FOR 2019

 

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Does your child’s heart belong to daddy or perhaps another important guy in their life? Here’s a selection of picture books that celebrate all facets of fathers’ relationships with their kids. Share a story this Father’s Day with someone special and make their day.

 

 my papi has a motorcycle-book-cvrMY PAPI HAS A MOTORCYCLE
Written by Isabel Quintero
Illustrated by Zeke Peña
(Kokila; $17.99, Ages 4-8)

Starred Review – Booklist, Horn Book

With its beautiful homage to the author’s childhood home of Corona in California, My Papi Has a Motorcycle is an atmospheric read that pulled me in as the third rider on the titular motorcycle. Quintero and Peña team up for a second time to paint a picture in words and artwork of a changing city that’s still full of family, friends and overflowing with humanity.

This 40-page picture book feels wonderfully expansive in that it takes readers all over Daisy Ramona’s hometown huddled close behind her papi. A carpenter by day, Daisy’s dad often takes her out on his bike after work but tonight’s special because they’re going to see some of the new homes he’s building. As they take off on their journey, Daisy remarks how they become like a comet, “The sawdust falling from Papi’s hair and clothes becomes a tail following us.” Wow! You can easily feel the power of the motorcycle from the language and illustrations that fuel this fabulous picture book.

Travel page by page, gorgeous prose after prose, illustration after illustration, with Daisy and her Papi. Together they cruise by Joy’s Market and greet the librarian, “roar past murals that tell our history–of citrus groves and immigrants who worked them …” But when they head over to Don Rudy’s Raspados they see the front door boarded over, a sign of gentrification coming to the neighborhood. Still Daisy’s filled with delight at the city she calls home, a city that’s a part of her. They pass friendly faces and wave to Abuelito and Abuelita standing in their front yard.  The sights and sounds of Grand Boulevard greet her as they approach the circle where cars once raced and where Papi still “buys conchas on Sunday mornings!”

There’s no denying the glorious feeling readers will get as father and daughter make a few more important stops and eventually zoom home where Mami and Little Brother await. Don’t miss celebrating fatherhood, family ties and the meaning of neighborhood in this endearing picture book that simply soars!

great job dad book cvrGREAT JOB, DAD!
Written and illustrated by Holman Wang
(Tundra; $16.99, Ages 3-7) 

Starred Review – Kirkus Reviews

I never got a chance to read Great Job, Mom! but I’m happy I did get to read Holman Wang’s Great Job, Dad! This fiber artist extraordinaire painstakingly creates realistic scenes using needle felting in wool so I appreciate that the book’s back matter enlightens readers as to what’s involved in the process.

Holman’s rhyming story is funny and also realistic. It shows how this particular father, who is a manager during his day job (yes, that pays the bills), has many other volunteer jobs at home. When he feeds his children he’s a waiter. When he takes them for a hike in their wagon and stroller, he’s a chauffeur. “Quite often he becomes a chauffeur to several VIPs.” As an inspector (bound to bring out giggles because here we see Dad checking for a dirty diaper),”it matters what he sees!” We all know the role of judge dads often play  when siblings or friends fight. I think diplomat could have been added here, too! Additionally this dad puts in time as a computer engineer, librarian, pilot, architect, receptionist and astronomer that we see in detailed illustrations that never cease to amaze. Of course my favorite is the bedtime scene where titles from books on the bed and bookcase can actually be read. If you’re looking for something original to read for Father’s Day, pick up a copy of this picture book.

going down home with daddy book cvrGOING DOWN HOME WITH DADDY
Written by Kelly Starling Lyons
Illustrated by Daniel Minter
(Peachtree Publishing; $16.95, Ages 4-8)

Starred Review – Kirkus Reviews, School Library Journal

My childhood friend’s mother was from the south and used to attend family reunions when we were kids. Going Down Home With Daddy is exactly how I imagined them to be. Lyons’s story, “inspired by her husband’s heritage and her own” beautifully captures the annual family gathering incorporating every sense in the reading experience. I could see, touch, smell, taste and hear everything through Lyons’s perfect prose from the car ride when Lil Alan’s too excited to sleep to his first glimpse of Granny, “scattering corn for her chickens like tiny bits of gold.”  I could smell her peppermint kisses, hear the laughter as more and more relatives arrived, feel the breeze during the tractor ride, taste the hot, homemade mac and cheese and see the cotton field “dotted with puffs of white.”

The story unfolds as the narrator, Lil Alan, realizes he’s forgotten something to share for the anniversary celebration and cannot enjoy himself until he figures out what contribution he can make. When he does, it’s the most heartfelt moment although there are many others in this thoughtful, moving picture book. Minter’s warm illustrations in earthy tones heighten every experience and seem to recall the family’s African roots and connection to the land. I found myself rereading the picture book several times to soak up more of Lyons’s rich language and Minter’s evocative art.

side by side book cvrSIDE BY SIDE: A CELEBRATION OF DADS
Written and illustrated by Chris Raschka
(Phaidon; $18.95, Ages 3-5)

Starred Review – School Library Journal

Caldecott-winning author and illustrator, Chris Raschka, has created a simple yet spot on read-aloud with Side by Side. It will fill your heart as you share it with little ones. A diverse group of children and their dads engage in typical father-child activities, some of which I’d almost forgotten now that my kids have grown up. With each rewarding page turn, a new treat awaits at will resonate with both parent and youngster. Ideal for this age group, Side by Side, with its economy of words and buoyancy of illustration, manages to keep this picture book cool and captivating.

I love how Raschka opens with the quintessential Horse and rider as a little girl, braids flying to depict motion, rides bare-back on her dad. Readers will feel the delight emanating from her entire body. Raschka also cleverly demonstrates how roles change, first with a child fast asleep sprawled across his father while his dad reads (Bed and sleeper). And then he follows up that illustration with one parents know all too well. In Sleeper and waker that same man’s son attempts to get his father up from a nap. The watercolor art is lovely and joyful and leaves the right amount of white to pull us straight to the characters and what they are doing. I’m still smiling from this read!

up to something book cvrUP TO SOMETHING
Written by Katrina McKelvey
Illustrated by Kirrili Lonergan
(EK Books; $17.99, Ages 4-7)

Up to Something serves as an ideal reminder on Father’s Day that there’s more to being a dad than simply being around.

After seeing a poster for a race, Billy gets excited and asks his dad if they can enter. When his dad says, “Of course, Billy! Let’s go build something!” he has one thing in mind when Billy has another. Once in the shed, Billy’s father’s words seem to indicate that he’s going to build the vehicle on his own despite making his son his special assistant.

Disappointed by the drudge work, Billy goes ahead and constructs his own vehicle. When his dad bangs and drills, so does Billy. Looks like Billy’s diving head on into the project yet his dad seems oblivious. When at last the race cars are unveiled, Billy’s vehicle has an individuality about it that is so much more unique than the one his father has made. That’s when it finally occurs to this adult that he has essentially ignored his child, that he hasn’t let his son contribute. That’s not a team effort. Putting their two heads together provides an opportunity for father and son to connect and create and, out of that combined effort, magic can and does happen.

Lonergan’s use of loosely shaped, muted watercolor and pencil in her illustrations complements the story. She’s also employed newspaper and what looks like sheet music as a substitute for wood, producing an added dimension to the art that plays into the book’s theme of imagination, recycling and invention. Clearly being present as a parent is what matters and McKelvey’s picture book hits that nail on the head.

a fathers love book cvrA FATHER’S LOVE
Written by Hannah Holt
Illustrated by Yee Von Chan
(Philomel; $17.99, Ages 3-7)

I had no idea what to expect when I read Hannah Holt’s A Father’s Love but now I understand why it’s been getting so much buzz. Told in well metered rhyme that never feels forced, this charming picture begs to be read out loud. The author’s covered a colorful and varied selection of animal dads and sometimes family and focuses on the unique bond between father and offspring.

“Beneath a mighty REDWOOD TREE,
A fox tends to his family.
He keeps them safe
by digging chutes.
This father’s love
runs deep as roots.”

Nine animals from marmoset to toad, penguin to wolf and ultimately some human fathers fill the pages of this tender tale. We learn how dads do all sorts of interesting and important things for their young. Take the emu, for example. The male of the species incubates the eggs much like the seahorse. Chan’s appealing artwork shows again and again how strong a father’s love is the world over whether her illustrations are of an Emperor Penguin or a Peregrine Falcon. Dads may come in all shapes and sizes, some may swim and some may fly, but the love they have for their children is the one thing they all have in common. Back matter offers more details about all the animals in the book.

  • Reviewed by Ronna Mandel

 

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For the Child in All of Us

page_1_thumb_largeAlbert Einstein once said, “I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”

Inside My Imagination ($15.95, Cuento de Luz, Age 5-7) by Marta Arteaga is a captivating book about a girl who enters a magical paradise, all created by her own imagination. She “breathes in a story” while taking young readers through her mind and ever-changing random thoughts. Her visions are enchanting, and she tells us how they flow together making her more and more creative and giving her more and more original ideas.

The hardcover book is of the highest quality, and the delightful illustrations by Zuzanna Celej are misty and imaginative, perfectly fitting for the somewhat poetic prose.

miimaginacion004

The true beauty of Inside My Imagination is that it encourages readers to think outside the box. It lets them know that it is perfectly okay to use their imaginations, and in fact is a wonderful thing to do. It can take them to never before explored places and send them on a path of discovery of new ideas. More importantly, it teaches them that their imagination is what gives them the freedom to be themselves.

– Reviewed by Debbie Glade

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Make Art a Part of Your Every Day Life

Debbie Glade reviews a creative and resourceful book about how to bring art into your child’s life.

Art is Every Day: Activities for the Home, Park, Museum, and City ($16.95, Zephyr Press, Adults) by Eileen S. Prince is your go-to guide for helping your child experience art in every day places. This meaty paperback outlines 65 unique projects for parents, grandparents and teachers to share with the children in their lives.

One of the projects in the book is creating a Photo Design Quilt. Essentially children take photos of patterns they see around the house, print them out on paper and create a quilt-like pattern. A few of the many other ideas include making vegetable prints by cutting veggies and using them like stamps, drawing noises and smells, drawing using only Primary colors and color rubbing leaves you find in a park.

The author writes a nice narrative for every project, explaining what skills that project will teach the child, as well as concepts to discuss with the child. I like the fact that the author suggests ways you might wish to modify the projects. This encourages creative thinking in the child and may inspire them to come up with their very own art projects.

Art is Every Day truly inspires kids to think like an artist no matter where they are. And with a book like this, readers quickly learn that creating art is simple, fun and affordable. After reading it, I felt like weaving paper with the stack of old magazines and catalogs I have.

The only suggestion I have that could make this book better would be adding more color photos.

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Let’s Put on a Puppet Show!

Making Puppets is Fun for the Whole Family!

Regular contributor, Debbie Glade, tells us how easy it is to create a clever puppet character.

61oertvi26l_sl500_aa300_I’ve often read that children who perform regularly for their families are more successful in school and in their careers years down the road. I think the reason for this is that it brings out creativity and develops social skills at an early age. 10-Minute Puppets ($10.95, Workman) is a fabulously creative book. The author, Noel MacNeal is a puppeteer and a producer and performer for Sesame Workshop. He was also the voice of the Bear in Disney’s The Bear in the Big Blue House.

I’ve always been fascinated by puppets, because they are such fun to make and such fun to use. Parents and grandparents delight in watching their kids perform too. In 10-Minute Puppets, you’ll get endless ideas about how to make everything from finger puppets to shadow puppets. You can even make your own hand puppet simply by attaching eyes! What I love about the book is that some of the puppets can be made in just a few minutes, with supplies you are sure to have hanging around the house. There are even instructions on creating theaters and tips on how to put on a great show. In the appendix are a bunch of fabulous templates you can use.

This is an ideal book for parents to buy so they can keep their kids entertained. It is also perfect for elementary teachers and day care centers to get the creative juices flowing in the classroom – in a most fun, educational and affordable way.

debbiegladeDebbie Glade, today’s guest reviewer, is the author, illustrator and voice talent of the award-winning children’s picture book The Travel Adventures of Lilly P Badilly: Costa Rica, published by Smart Poodle Publishing. She visits South Florida schools with her reading, writing and geography programs. For years, Debbie was a travel writer for luxury cruise lines. She writes parenting articles for various websites and is the Geography Awareness Editor for WanderingEducators.com. She blogs daily at smartpoodlepublishing.com.

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You Can Change The World

31 Ways to Change the World (Candlewick Press, $8.99, ages 8-12) is reviewed today by Debbie Glade.

0763645060med31 Ways to Change the World is the result of suggestions from thousands of children. The theory is that “Small Actions x Lots of People = Big Change.” Inside this ultra colorful and busy book are 31 really cute and crafty, yet simple actions we can take every day to make the world a better place to live. I love that the book teaches kids about consumption, waste and preservation, plus treating others well. For example, Action #11 teaches you to the love the stuff you already have. Other actions include teaching your granny to text, giving people compliments, taking shorter showers and not starting a war. Hey, maybe this book should be for adults too. In any event, the premise of 31 Ways to Change the World is all for the greater good, and it really is clever. I’m sending my copy to my daughter, who is a freshman in college. I know she’s going to love it. She’ll particularly enjoy Action #25, which is “Talk Trash to Your Parents.”

debbieglade1Debbie Glade, today’s guest reviewer, is the author, illustrator and voice talent of the award-winning children’s picture book The Travel Adventures of Lilly P Badilly: Costa Rica, published by Smart Poodle Publishing. She visits South Florida schools with her reading, writing and geography programs. For years, Debbie was a travel writer for luxury cruise lines. She writes parenting articles for various websites and is the Geography Awareness Editor for WanderingEducators.com. She blogs daily at smartpoodlepublishing.com.

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