Dad And The Dinosaur, by Gennifer Choldenko; illustrated by Dan Santat (G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers)
Nicholas is afraid of many things, from the darkness outside to what may be lurking under manhole covers. His dad, though doesn’t share those fears. To help himself be brave like his father, Nick begins carrying a toy dinosaur — because dinosaurs aren’t afraid of things. “When Little Nick had his dinosaur in his pocket, he was just as brave as Big Nick.” The boy brings the dinosaur rock-climbing, to soccer games and swimming, and when his parents comment on his achievements, Nick feels proud of himself. Later, the toy goes missing. Dad steps in, and, when Nick’s mom asks where they are going so late at night, his father answers in true dad-fashion: ‘“It’s guy stuff,” his father answered as they walked out the door.’” Multilayered, realistic illustrations combined with relatable text make the story not only about the inner turmoil of a little boy, but a deeper reflection on the bond between a father and son.
What Daddies Like, by Judy Carey Nevin; illustrated by Stephanie Six (little bee books)
A little bear and his dad spend the day enjoying different activities. From playing outside to winding down together at home, we see what daddies like. “Daddies like adventures./Daddies like swings.” Cute details abound, such as after watching the boy jump from a swing, the dad follows suit, arms flailing. While the young bear is in the bathtub, we learn “Daddies like splashes./Daddies like boats.” The straightforward text is sweet and wry, and the simple, soft pastel watercolor illustrations are both soothing and adorable. Little ones will love cuddling up on their dad’s lap to hear this story and look at the kid-friendly artwork.
If My Love Were A Fire Truck: A Daddy’s Love Song, by Luke Reynolds; illustrated by Jeff Mack (Doubleday Books for Young Readers)
A dad expresses the depth of his love for his son in this bright and cheery book. It starts with the father helping his son settle into sleep, then takes the reader through different venues, including a trip to the jungle, into the ocean, watching a parade and racing a car. The rhyming verses flow smoothly, lending themselves to a pleasing cadence. “If my love were a fire truck, its sirens would flash all night./And if my love were a rocket ship, it would blast off out of sight.” It’s a lovely bedtime story offering reassurance in a fun way.
Daddy Honk Honk! by Rosalinde Bonnet (Dial Books for Young Readers)
A young fox named Aput is savoring the last day of summer in the Arctic when he discovers an egg lying in the grass. “He looks and sniffs./He knocks and listens./He shakes it and …” Then, to his surprise, a baby blue goose pops out of its shell, exclaiming “Daddy Honk Honk!” Whatever Aput says, the baby bird responds the same way: “Daddy Honk Honk!” Aput thinks the baby bird is cute, but knows he has to find a family for him. He asks different forest animals if they would like to take the baby, but each one has a reason they can’t. They each offer a tip, though, such as the lemmings, who tell him he needs to keep the baby warm. After getting much-needed advice, he brings the baby to his house and implements all that he has learned, from cooking healthy food to keeping a watchful eye on the baby. Later, all the animals arrive at his house, to celebrate the new family. Winsome ink-and-watercolor illustrations complement the engaging story.
Papasaurus, by Stephan Lomp (Chronicle Books)
Babysaurus and his Papasaurus are playing their favorite game — hide and seek. But this time, the little dinosaur is unable to find his dad. As he encounters his friends, all of whom are different types of jungle creatures, he asks each one if they’ve seen his papa. They respond by asking if his papa has the characteristic of their own dads. The answer is no each time, with Babysaurus extolling the virtues of his papa. ‘“Soon, Babysaurus saw Velo. Hey! Babysaurus called out. Have you seen my papa?/Does he have sharp claws to fight like my papa? asked Velo./No, he never fights, answered Babysaurus./Sorry, I have not seen him,” said Velo.”’ Dark backgrounds set the tone for an adventure, while the dinosaurs are rendered in bright shades of blue, yellow, orange and purple, making them the focus of each page and representative of youngsters rather than fearsome creatures. The romp through the jungle ends with a surprise for Babysaurus.
A young bunny hops out of bed, full on energy, and looks for his dad. “Daddy up?” he asks, while peering at his sleeping father through a door. He brings a toy in and rolls it right beside his father’s bed. “Daddy ball?” Next he brings a bike, a kite, swim gear, and even his dad’s cellphone. Will his dad ever wake up? Finally, the youngster shouts, “Wake up, Daddy!” The dad responds warmly, and soon the pair are snuggling. Luscious artwork accompanies the delightful story.
You and Me, Me and You, by Miguel Tanco (Chronicle Books)
A young boy shows how his perspective affects his dad in this charming book that features brief sentences and understated artwork. “I remind you to create … /and to do things you might forget./I give you the chance to tell stories … /and I help you choose words with care.” Whimsical sketches, in black and yellow set against ample white space, add subtle humor to the text, such as when the boy says “I show you how to talk to strangers” and the child is pictured chatting up a man on the subway as his dad looks on.
Things To Do With Dad, by Sam Zuppardi (Candlewick Press)
A smiling boy and his equally happy dad start out this tale, with one carrying a pan and bowl of eggs and the other holding additional cooking supplies. They make pancakes, then gleefully enjoy the fruits of their labor. Soon, though, the fun comes to a stop, as they both notice a to-do list of chores awaiting Dad. The boy gets an idea that turns the day around and enables them to do the activities together and to approach each chore as a playful event. “Make the beds” becomes “Sail a pirate ship.” Folding the wash and watering the garden get a fun treatment, too. The only words in the book are on the chore list, and it’s the perfect amount of text, as the characters’ faces and actions tell us what we need to know. Bright and breezy watercolor-and-pencil illustrations perfectly express the concept and it’s easy to smile along at the joyfulness of the father and son.
Nelly Gnu and Daddy Too, by Anna Dewdney (Viking Books for Young Readers)
Kids enamored with the “Llama Llama” books will recognize Nelly Gnu, a character from the popular book series. The story, by Anna Dewdney, who passed away in September 2016, was originally published in 2014 in hardcover and is now available as a board book. Here, upbeat rhymes capture a youngster’s adoration for her father. “Nelly loves her Daddy Gnu./He always knows just what to do./A great big box, some tape, and string — Daddy can make anything!” The father and daughter team up to build something special, and take a trip to the store. When Nelly loses sight of her father, he soon finds her, playfully raising her high in the air. Then it’s time to finish their project, eat dinner and prepare for bedtime. It’s a merry experience for the pair, as well as the reader.
Mia Geiger is a writer in the Philadelphia area. You can find her at miageiger.com[miageiger.com] and @MiaGeiger.