Celebrating Fathers on Father's Day, and All Through the Year
Fathers are in the spotlight in June—Sunday, June 15, 2008 is their special day this year.
While listening to a Mother's Day sermon in 1909, Sonora Smart (of Spokane, WA) developed the idea of honoring her father in a similar observance. William Smart raised his family alone after the death of his wife; and his daughter became convinced that he deserved to know "just how special he was." Because his birthday was in June, she chose to hold her first Father's Day celebration in June—celebrating all fathers.
In 1926, a national committee was formed in New York City to promote the observance of a national day for fathers. Finally, in 1956, a Joint-Resolution-of-Congress recognized Father’s Day and in 1966, President Richard Nixon established a "permanent national observance of Father's Day." The third Sunday in June is set aside to honor all fathers and those who have served in the role of "dads" —uncles, grandfathers, step-fathers, neighbors, big brothers, etc. Celebrate the many facets of these special relationships by sharing books from the selection that follows.
Visit: http://www.loveyoufather.com/fathers-day-history/index.html for more information and great ideas for making gifts/cards/decorations, etc.
Contributor: Sheilah Egan
Father's Day Choices for Dads and Granddads
The Best Father's Day Present Ever
Illustrated by Pam Paparone
The bland title might mislead some readers into thinking this is just a sweet little Father’s Day story, but it is so much better than sweet. Yes, there is a familiar lesson in this story about a little snail who wants to buy his father the perfect Father’s Day gift, only to learn that doing things together can be better than any gift money can buy. But it is told with such freshness that it feels brand new and decidedly un-lesson-like. By the time Langley, a young snail, gets to the store where all the other kids are buying their Father’s Day gifts, it is closed. (He races to get there, but even so, he can only go at a snail’s pace.) Disappointed but not defeated, Langley gives his dad the gift of a special father-son walk, and it turns out to be the best Father’s Day present ever. A simple premise, but success--and interest to children of varying ages--is all in the humorous details of the text and crisp, lively illustrations. Readers will enjoy the descriptions and pictures of the store-bought gifts the other kids score for their dads, such as the “Amazing Auto-Select-Sports-Only Remote Control” and the “Super-Duper-Golf-O-Matic-Home-Ball-Washer.” Other pages reveal delightful, more subtle details, such as little breakfast sweet rolls that are shaped just like the snails’ bodies, or the flashback to the time Langley gave his father a homemade painting that his father looked at admiringly even though he was holding it upside down. By mixing attitude, laugh-out-loud humor, and sweetness, Loomis and Paparone have crafted a book with wide appeal. The publisher’s web site categorizes this as a book for children under five years, which is unfortunate, as the book seems pitched to a broader audience. 2007, Putnam/Penguin, $15.99. Ages 5 to 11. Reviewer: Debbie Levy (Children's Literature).
Come On, Dad!: 75 Things For Fathers and Sons to Do Together
Here are 75 activities for dads and sons, although there really is no reason why moms and/or daughters couldn’t be included. Activities run the gamut, with nature and science, family history, explorations, games and crafts, reading, writing, math and cooking all included. Brief, basic instructions are given as are, in many cases, suggestions to make the activity simpler or more involved. Sidebars listing materials needed often accompany the text. Originally published in 1991 and revised in 2002, most of the activities are timeless; but a few of the details, like using a tape recorder not an MP3 player and taking photo film to be developed into negatives and prints, are dated. Clothing and haircuts in some of the photos also show their age. Most activities do not require much pre-prep and most are fairly simple to complete. The activities are not grouped by type, age-appropriateness, or location. While not a particularly attractive book, it does have lots of good activities to engage youngsters, individually or in party groups. 2008, Lobster Press, Ages 6 to 10, $12.95. Reviewer: Peg Glisson
Dad's Bald Head
Illustrations by Kevin O'Malley
Pete comes to the conclusion that bald is beautiful but only after he has had a day to think about it. The day began as usual. He mimics his father who is shaving. This morning, however, his dad continues to shave the few scraggly hairs on his head. Pete is not sure he likes his father’s new bald look. On the other hand, his mother seems very pleased. Throughout the day Pete notices the “fake hair” worn by the man at the gas station, the fuzzy fringe of hair on the man in the grocery story, and the man in the post office who “looked like someone had drawn lines on his head.” After seeing pictures of his father as a young man, Pete decides that his dad’s bald look is “okay” and seals that decision with a kiss on his dad’s bald head. O’Malley’s illustrations provide just the right exaggeration to accompany the droll humor of the text. The billboards, signs, and newspaper headlines all add fun and a bit of wordplay that primary grade children will enjoy. This provides a different approach to the usual Father’s Day books. It large size, style of illustrations and topic make it ideal for a parent/child story time. The author’s dedication would make a perfect introduction to the book. It will be popular all year long, whenever a dad goes bald. 2007, Walker & Company, $15.95. Ages 4 to 8. Reviewer: Sharon Salluzzo (Children's Literature).
A Day with Dad
Bo R. Holmberg
Illustrated by Eva Eriksson
Tim is very excited. He lives with his mom and loves her very much, but today is extra special. His dad is coming to town to spend the day with Tim. His dad arrives and there day begins. They walk in town and get hotdogs. They go see the latest cartoon movie. They get pizza. They go to the library. At each place Tim tells the people they meet that he is here with his dad. Tim is having a lot of fun, but he tries not to notice that it is getting late. When it is time for Dad to go Tim is sad. Dad takes him onto the train and announces to all of the passengers that Tim is his son and he is the best son anyone could ever have. Back on the platform they hug goodbye and Dad reminds Tim that he loves him and that they will see each other again very soon. This book does an amazing job of handling what can be a very sensitive subject. The author dwells on how much Dad and Tim care about each other and how nice it is for them to share a day together. The illustrations are lovely with very soft colors, complimenting the story nicely. This would be a nice addition to any library. 2006, Candlewick Press, $15.99. Ages 1 to 5. Reviewer: Melyssa Malinowski (Children’s Literture).
Every Friday morning, whatever the weather, a little boy and his father walk to the local diner for breakfast, making Friday the little boy’s favorite day. From the point of view of the little boy, the reader discovers what is wonderful and consistent. “Everyone is rushing but we’re taking our time.” When the little boy dawdles, father is seen pulling him gently along. They watch the construction of a new multi-story building as it goes up “bit by bit.” They talk about “all sorts of things.” There is a great deal of warmth, charm, and appeal in the retro 1950s look of the illustrations. The tone in both the text and illustrations is contagiously upbeat. One line of text per double-page spread makes this very accessible to three-year-olds. With mother and baby left at home, this is clearly a book of a special time between father and son. Librarians will want to keep a copy on the story time shelf and bring it out for several different themes, such as Father’s Day, city living, and mornings. This is pure delight. 2007, Henry Holt, $16.95. Ages 3 to 7. Reviewer: Sharon Salluzzo (Children's Literature).
Lola M. Schaefer
The original series was published in 1999 and this is the new updated version and it is part of the “Families” set. This book and others in the series support national social studies standards related to identifying family members and their role in the family. As the text states a father is a male parent. Some dads do chores around the house, help put their children to bed, do the grocery shopping, undertake activities like fixing a car or taking a son to the movies or reading a book to offspring. I assume that the publisher used stock photos, but the blatant ads for products such as Capri Sun, Old Navyy, Coka-Cola sens a message that may not have been intended. In general the series appears useful, but certain tiles like this one could be questionable, even though the book is filled with pictures of kids and parents from various ethnic backgrounds. There is a four word glossary, reference to two books (recent publications) and FactHound to take kids to safe Internet sites. The last page contains and index, word count and recommended grade level for the book. 2008, Pebble/Capstone Press, Ages 5 to 7, $17.26. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot
A Father's Day Thank You
Illustrated by Kathi Ember
This touching book is the story of a young child (from a bear family) looking for the perfect gift to give his father for Father’s Day. While searching for his gift, he asks his older siblings for advice and hears the reasons behind the gifts they give him. During the day, the father makes breakfast, fixes a bicycle tire, and even helps with a scraped knee. The end of the book is a surprise because of what the child decides to get for his father. The illustrations are rich with color and design. The graphics are also quite clever, with several things only adults will understand. For example, the shirt the father bear is wearing has a honey bee design. This is the perfect book to have around the house for Father’s Day. Children reading this book will grasp the concept of giving their father a gift he will enjoy for that special day. 2007, Albert Whitman & Company, $15.95. Ages 4 to 8. Reviewer: Nicole Peterson (Children's Literature).
Granddad's Fishing Buddy
Illustrated by Stephane Jorisch
Sara is spending some time with her grandparents. Too excited to sleep, she hears Granddad up and about. When she asks why he is awake while the sky is still dark, he tells her he is meeting his fishing buddy. Standing straight and tall, Sara is eager to appear big and old enough to go along. Granddad asks her if she can be quiet, so as not to scare the fish (“yes”), if she can row the boat (“yes”), if she can put a worm on a hook (“no problem,” but her heart is not so sure). After leaving a note for Grandmama, the two set off on for a wonderful morning on the lake. Sara is curious about the fishing buddy, but Granddad says that he will meet them on the lake. Other fishermen greet them as they float about on the lake, but none turns out to be the “buddy.” Then a large shadow soars above them, and Sara sees a heron alight at the edge of the lake, where he catches a fish. Granddad instructs Sara to row quietly toward the bird. Sara and Granddad catch fish of their own. When the heron flies to another part of the lake, they row (quietly) after him again…catching fish each time. Sara soon realizes that the heron is Granddad’s “fishing buddy.” Jorisch’s charming watercolor illustrations reflect his own experiences on northern lakes and capture the colors, breezes, and dreaminess of fishing in the early morning hours. The combination of art and text serves to tell the gentle story of a grandfather and granddaughter in an unforgettable memory-making moment. Oh, by the way, Sara used red licorice instead of worms. She shared her secret with Granddad--it worked quite well. 2007, Dial/Penguin, $16.99. Ages 4 to 9. Reviewer: Sheilah Egan (Children's Literature).
Lola M. Schaefer
The original series was published in 1999 and this is the new updated version and it is part of the “Families” set. This book and others in the series support national social studies standards related to identifying family members and their role in the family. I was fortunate enough to have grandparents until I was well out of college and even two great grandfathers while I was young. As the text states grandfathers are the fathers of your parents. Some grandfathers may still be working others may be retired in any case, they share hobbies or spend their time taking grandkids on outings. The grandfathers in this book are enjoying fun and time with their grandchildren. The text closes with the statement “Grandfathers love their grandchildren.” That is pretty positive and powerful, but may not always be the case. The book is filled with pictures of kids and grandparents from various ethnic backgrounds which means it should have broad appeal. There is a five word glossary, reference to two books (recent publications) and FactHound to take kids to safe Internet sites. The last page contains and index, word count and recommended grade level for the book. 2008, Pebble/Capstone Press, Ages 5 to 7, $17.26. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot
Illustrated by Richard McFarland
In her first picture book, Kathryn England has created a warm interchange of family history between a grandfather and his young granddaughter. When Lucy asks about all the “crinkles” in Granddad’s face, he responds by tracking each of his many wrinkles to a happy past event. He begins with the memory of his own marriage, goes on to stories about Lucy’s mamma as a little girl, and ends with the culminating joy of Lucy’s own arrival in the family. The faces in McFarland’s illustration are created in his trademark photo-realist style--in fact, it looks as if he might have used pictures of himself from the family album to depict Granddad. After reading this book in the class, a kindergarten or primary class might be offered an assignment to go home and ask about the weddings and births that brought joy to each child’s own family. Families could be invited to make up a poster, using their own photos as illustrations. 2007, Flashlight Press, $15.95. Ages 4 to 7. Reviewer: Mary Hynes-Berry (Children's Literature).
Grandpa for Sale
Dotti Enderle and Vicki Sansum
Illustrated by T. Kyle Gentry
This amusing story to warm any grandparent’s heart begins at Oldman’s Antiques, where Lizzie is dusting and minding the store while her grandpa naps and her mother has stepped out. Mrs. Bradley Larchmont the Third stops in with her poodle, Giselle, to browse. After selecting a few items, Mrs. Larchmont notices grandpa asleep on the settee, and demands to know how much he costs. Lizzie explains nervously that he is not for sale. Then Mrs. Larchmont begins to make offers. As the amount rises from five hundred to a thousand on up to fifty thousand dollars, Lizzie’s imagination goes wild imagining what she could buy with each. But then she realizes that she could not enjoy the treehouse, or even an entire amusement park, without her grandpa. Out goes Mrs. Larchmont in a huff, for it’s “No sale.” Black and white drawings create the jumbled details of the shop, while Gentry combines graphite pencil and digital pencil with watercolors and chalk for the characters and Lizzie’s imaginative creations. There’s a comic, almost cartoon quality to the characters, even the poodle, and particularly to Lizzie’s expressions as the bid for grandpa climbs. 2007, Flashlight Press, $15.95. Ages 4 to 8. Reviewers: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz (Children's Literature).
Has Anyone Seen My Emily Greene?
Norma Fox Mazer
Illustrations by Christine Davenier
Emily Greene, who has brown yes and loves red, roses, rhymes, ribbons, bread, and dancing, plays hide-and-seek around the house with her father. Emily’s dad has made lunch for her but does not know where she is hiding. After looking all around the house, he still cannot find her, even though she is too young to hide without showing herself. As he searches for her, she moves to different rooms of the house. Norma Fox Mazer wrote her story in rhymes from the father’s point of view. The father will surely make readers laugh with the outrageous places he searches for his daughter, such as under the rug, in a sock, and in his hair. The rhyming text also makes this story a great read aloud. Christine Davenier uses watercolors to make her illustrations with warm colors and round objects that show the closeness of the relationship between Emily and her father. In addition, the illustrator’s inclusion of a hide-and-seek game on each page makes it fun for kids to play along. 2007, Candlewick Press, Ages 5 to 6, $15.99. Reviewer: Caroline Maxwell (Children's Literature).
How I Learned Geography
When war devastated the land, Uri’s parents lost everything. They fled from Poland empty-handed. They traveled far, far east and lived in a small room with a couple they did not know. There were no toys and no books. Food was scarce. When young Uri’s father came home one day with a map instead the usual small piece of bread, Uri was both hungry and furious. Then, his father hung the colorful map of the world on the wall, and suddenly their cheerless room was filled with light. Uri was fascinated with the map. He spent hours studying it and found himself transported to strange places with exotic names. The map’s magic took him to burning deserts, to snowy mountains, to wondrous temples, to fruit groves, and to huge cities. He would draw maps and colorful scenes on scraps of paper that he found and treasured. His hours became enchanted, and he forgave his father, who had been right all along. An author’s note at the end features a photo of Uri at about age seven, a map of Africa he drew at age ten, and a picture that won a contest when he was thirteen—his first artistic success. Illustrated with Shulevitz’s trademark watercolor paintings, this is a loving tribute to his father. A unique contribution to World War II literature. 2008, Farrar Straus Giroux, Ages 6 to 11, $16.95. Reviewer: Phyllis Kennemer (Children's Literature).
If My Dad Were A Dog
Illustrated by Annabel Tellis and Ian Butterworth
Photographed by Tracy Morgan
The narrator, possibly female, imagines what it would be like if her dad were a dog for one day. The child describes what activities she would do with her dog daddy, such as making him sit and stay, going to a park, and “teach(ing) him to dance like a butterfly queen.” The child is certainly proud of her father because she knows that he would win first place at a dog show. She would feed him food not meant for dogs--like muffins, fish fingers, and raspberry jelly, which demonstrates her imagination and innocence. She would even let her dad borrow her favorite dish, which shows she loves him and shares with him willingly. At the end of the day, the child would catch her dad after chasing him and take him home, telling him he is a good daddy. Aside from the humorous subject matter, Tellis includes wit in the book, such as when the narrator says she would buy her dad a small scoop to pick up his “daddy-doos” after a walk. The illustrations are also amusing because her dad is wearing a crown, butterfly wings, and a bow in one picture, and swimming trunks and sunglasses in others. The simple yet eye- catching pictures are interesting because of the inclusion of photos of a Chocolate Labrador Retriever. This will capture children’s attention more easily than a simple drawing of a dog. The bright colors in the illustrations are very inviting and enjoyable, while the photography of the dog really brings life to the pages and the story. 2007, Chicken House/Scholastic, Ages 4 to 8, $16.99. Reviewer: Kristine Kienle (Children's Literature).
Me and My Dad!
Illustrated by Alison Edgson
A father bear and his cub spend the day together exploring the world around them. They discover a bird’s nest and a beehive. They find a cave in which to shelter from the impending thunderstorm. At the end of the day, they gaze at the stars before father tucks the little cub into bed for the night. Lots of cuddling and other demonstrations of how much they enjoy each other’s company can be seen in the large, clear illustrations. The soft blues, greens, and yellows give a cozy, warm feeling. The cadence of the rhyming text is smooth, and the language just right for a preschool story time. This is a good addition to programs on Father’s Day, bears, and summer afternoons. 2007, Good Books, $16.95. Ages 3 to 5. Reviewer: Sharon Salluzzo (Children's Literature).
My Father the Dog
Illustrated by Randy Cecil
In this hilarious story, a young girl claims that her father is a dog living in a human form. She presents her argument with evidence. She bases her facts on her dad’s activities during the day, which resemble the actions of a dog. The morning starts off with both the father and dog scratching themselves after waking up from a night’s sleep. Both retrieve the morning newspaper before having breakfast. While in the car for a drive, the dog and father are enjoying the wind in their faces. The daughter even finds similarities when her dad is playing, snacking, and resting. The typical dog characteristics are transformed into what the father does, including a couple of bodily functions. The comical pictures add to the humor of the story with the dad and dog parallel in action and expression. There is a sweet ending as the day draws to a close when the daughter relates the final two traits her dad shares with a dog: faithfulness and loyalty. 2006, Candlewick Press, Ages 4 to 7, $6.99. Reviewer: Carrie Hane Hung (Children's Literature).
Pennies in a Jar
Illustrations by Ted Lewin
As his father leaves to fight in World War II, a young American boy, who is never named but narrates this story, must face his daily fears without his dad by his side. His mom encourages him to use the pennies that he has saved in his green glass jar to buy his Dad a birthday present and mail overseas. He counts those pennies as he sits on the front porch steps every day just as he and his dad used to do. Without his dad, he dreads facing the street horses that come by his house on certain days, such as Josephina the ragman’s horse, Nell the milkman’s horse, and Billy and Bailey the garbage man’s horses. Each of these horses overwhelms him, and he cannot seem to overcome his fear of them or try to interact with them. One day a camera man walks by his house with a small pony named Freedom on which the smiling boy gets his picture taken, remembering his dad’s words that a person simply must do something if it is important enough. With the pennies in his jar, he purchases the picture as his Dad’s birthday present, and with this gift, he includes a hand-written letter displayed on the final page of the story. Artist Ted Lewin creates colorful and vivid watercolor illustrations to depict a quaint American town in the 1940’s with some cars but also horse-drawn carriages. In this picture book, Lewin effectively captures the characters’ emotions through their expressions and skillfully portrays the touching story of a boy who fights his personal war and conquers his fear. 2007, Peachtree Publishers, Ages 4 to 8, $16.95. Reviewer: Ann-Marie Christy (Children's Literature).
Piglet and Papa
Illustrated by Stephen Michael King
This sequel to Piglet and Mama features the loving relationship of piglet with her papa. Piglet loved playing with her papa. One morning she sat on his head, bounced on his belly and chewed on his tail. Too hard. Papa jumped and chased Piglet from the sty. Piglet thought that Papa had stopped loving her, so she crept silently away. Then she sought reassurance among the barnyard animals. First, she approached Horse and asked, “Do you love me?” Horse responded affirmatively, but said that someone else loved Piglet ten times more. Piglet asked the same question of Sheep, Donkey, Duck, and Dog. Each animal mentioned one of Piglet’s loveable characteristics, but reminded her that someone loved her many times more than anyone else. Finally Piglet returned home where her papa was waiting. He loved her best of all in the whole wide world. Basking in this love, Piglet and Papa continued their games. Simple watercolor illustrations capture the mood of the story showing the happy antics of father and child in the beginning and end with the anxious search for love in the middle. A good read aloud choice for young children. 2007, Harry N. Abrams, $14.95. Ages 4 to 8. Reviewer: Phyllis Kennemer, Ph.D. (Children's Literature).
The Sunflower Farmer
Illustrated by Ryan Haugen
The Sunflower Farmer is a beginner reader about a boy who wants to be a farmer like his grandfather. He is determined to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps. He visits the older man every week and listens to stories about his grandfather’s farm days. Troy finds out weather can help or damage crops. Although Troy’s grandfather doesn’t farm anymore, he still owns farmland. One day, Troy’s mother takes him to visit the farm. Troy admires the sunflowers and wants to grow some in his backyard, so he gathers seeds from the flowers to take home. In the spring, Troy plants the seeds in a garden he has prepared. Then he waits and waits for the seeds to grow into flowers. But it takes a long time, and when Troy tells his grandfather, the response is that farming takes patience. The plants begin to grow, then are threatened by the weather. Will they ever bloom? Colorful illustrations, short sidebars, directions on how to grow sunflowers, a glossary, further reading, and website are included. The author has told a story of family relationships, while educating readers about life science, weather, and sunflowers. 2008, Picture Window Books, $19.23. Ages 5 to 7. Reviewer: Della A. Yannuzzi (Children's Literature).
Wake Up, Papa Bear!
David Algrim and Maxwell Algrim
Illustrated by Adam Relf
Papa Bear has apparently decided to take a nap in Baby Bear’s bed. What is Baby Bear to do? He wants Papa to wake up and move to his own bed. He tries tickling his feet, rubbing Papa’s nose, and jumping on the bed, but none of these actions seem to have results. Papa’s feet are textured, as is his nose, and you can make Baby Bear jump up and down with a pull tab. The sweet resolution also involves moving a tab. This board book with its moveable and tactile elements would make a nice selection to share on Father’s Day as well as any other time young ones are reading with their Dads. 2007, Golden Books/Random House, $9.99. Ages 1 to 3. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot (Children's Literature).
You Can Do Anything, Daddy
The story is not unfamiliar--a young boy asks his Dad what he would do if he were captured by pirates. The immediate response is “rescue you.” His son adds more and more elements of danger and challenge. What if there were sharks in the water, or the pirates were gorillas or worse yet robots from Mars who want to spirit him off in their space ship? With each complication, Dad responds as to how he would rescue his son from danger. In a twist, his son then inquires if his Dad would be thirsty, bruised, and hurt from fighting off all of these evil invaders. The young boy then describes how he would bring succor to his beleaguered Dad. This book should be a big hit on Father’s Day and any day that father and son are reading together. The illustrations are more comical than frightening, so parents do not have to worry too much about kids staying awake nights after reading this book. 2007, Putnam/Penguin, $14.99. Ages 2 to 6. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot (Children's Literature).
You're All My Favorites
Illustrated by Anita Jeram
McBratney writes delightfully warm stories and this one is no exception. Three little bear siblings wonder which one is their parents’ favorite. The Dad reassures them that they are “the nicest baby bears that I have ever seen.” But doubt creeps in again as one worries that because she is a girl, maybe Daddy loves the boys more than her. The boys also have their concerns--one does not have a patch like his siblings and the other is small. Once again the parents reassure each baby bear that he or she is the most perfect baby bear that anyone has ever seen. Jeram gives the bears human emotions and expressions--they smile, they cuddle, they look content, and their parents do succeed in making their babies feel secure and loved. That message will certainly resonate with human children who are having this book read to them. The story, originally published in 2005, is repackaged in a smaller format with three plush bear toys for kids to play with. The book fits easily into a cover slipcase on the inside of the box and the bears fit in the box underneath. It is all tied up with a pretty green ribbon. A nice present for the little ones in your life. 2007 (orig. 2005), Candlewick, $15.99. Ages 1 to 3. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot (Children's Literature).
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