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What Makes Your Dad Happy?

resized_9781742378381_224_297_FitSquareWHAT MAKES MY DAD HAPPY is a charming  children’s book written by Tania Cox with illustrations by Lorette Broekstra from Allen & Unwin. Distributed in the U.S. by Trafalgar Square Publishing from IPG, ( $11.99, Ages 3-5), this 24 page book will appeal to a broad audience since the dads depicted are from a wide range of ethnicities and abilities. I love that in addition to several Caucasian dads, a father in a wheelchair is shown along with an African-American dad, an older dad, and an Asian dad. Best of all, they’re having lots of fun and smiling loving smiles while interacting with their children.

Whether talking on the phone together, cooking, dancing, building or playing in the park, dads are simply happy making memories while spending quality time with their kids. And kids just love making their daddies happy with all kinds of surprises. Presented in easy-to-read rhyme with a catchy refrain, “That’s what makes my dad happy, that’s what makes my dad happy,” the book is ideal for reading aloud. Celebrate those special daddy and daughter or son moments by making time to read together and reflect on the different relationships What Makes My Dad Happy conveys.  Plus, giving this book as a gift not just on Father’s Day, but year round, is certain to make any dad very, very happy!

– Reviewed by Ronna Mandel

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God Bless Our Troops

Don’t Forget, God Bless Our Troops by Jill Biden and illustrated by Raul Colon ($16.99, Simon & Schuster, ages 5 and up) is reviewed by Rita Zobayan.

“Does Daddy have to go?” is the question young Natalie poses as her father, a soldier, gets ready for deployment. Based on the true events of her granddaughter, Natalie, Don’t Forget, God Bless Our Troops is Jill Biden’s tribute to the courage not only of the American troops but also to the families they leave behind.

We read along as Natalie faces the challenges of missing her father through milestones, holidays and simple, everyday life.  At school and in the community, Natalie is reminded of her father, but perhaps the most difficult times are the ones at home. Natalie sits on the floor of her room with stuffed animals around her. Her dolls are here. Her books are here. Even her dog, Webbie, is here. But one thing isn’t here. Daddy isn’t here.

Natalie isn’t the only one to miss her father; her brother, Hunter, and mother also must come to terms with his absence. Luckily, Natalie and her family have friends, extended family and neighbors nearby to help. So many people are kind to the family. Yesterday the neighbors brought over a homemade pizza. Today Dad’s friend Alex is shoveling the sidewalk. “Your dad is sure helping the country,” Alex says. “I want to help too!”

The book includes many additional sections: the Author’s Note, About Our Military, How You Can Help and Tips for Kids. Here readers learn facts such as 1% of the American population is in military service and 1.9 million children (up to 18 years old) are children of military personnel. There is a list of national organizations that provide information and volunteer opportunities to help military families. Lastly, children are provided ideas and suggestions for helping fellow students who have military parents.

In Don’t Forget, God Bless Our Troops, Dr. Biden reminds us how the families of soldiers must also sacrifice to help our country. They must live with the absence of a loved one, live with the fear that the worst may happen, and yet still try to live life as normally as possible. Dr. Biden also reminds us that simple acts of kindness can have long reaching effects. The book is an effective tool to help young readers learn how to look outside of themselves and help others when they can, even if by saying a simple, “Hello.”

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Divorce From A Kid’s Perspective

Living with Mom and Living with Dad (15.99, Candlewick Press, ages 3 and up) written and illustrated Melanie Walsh is a picture book that does such an extraordinary job explaining the delicate subject of divorce from the point of view of a child.

In the book Walsh introduces a little girl who deals with living in two separate houses – one with mom and one with dad, but still manages to call them both home. I love, love, love how Walsh uses insert flip pages in her illustrations to depict life with mom and then FLIP, she depicts life with dad.

She cleverly starts off at mom’s house with the pink door then FLIP, she’s at the top floor of dad’s apartment. She continues to show us her rooms – yellow walls at mom’s house and FLIP, she has flowery wall paper at dad’s. Walsh even addresses the little girl’s fear of the dark and how her needs are met by showing us that at mom’s she has a cute panda night light and FLIP at dad’s she has a string of butterfly lights.

Reviewed by Ingrid Vanessa Olivas.

Life should not end because of divorce. I am proud of the mom and dad in this book and how they still do activities with their daughter – camping with dad and visiting a farm with mom. As a teacher sometimes we are faced with having to ask both parents to attend a school play and seeing them both there is heartwarming.

Finally, Walsh even shows us that it’s okay to miss one parent when with the other. Bringing a backpack with a few favorite toys, looking at photo albums or simply making a phone call can ease that heart ache. At the end of the book readers will find a photo gallery of pictures of different family members who love the little girl. What a cool idea and one that anyone can easily implement at home. I adore this book and I can’t wait to read it to my new Kindergarten class this year because, while it’s sad to say that some of them are going through divorce, it will be nice to show them a simple, comforting storybook dealing with this sensitive subject.

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