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Happy Happy to Dads!

By on June 10, 2017

Here are several books that honor dads this month. Set aside some time to share these super stories with someone you love.

by Meribeth C. Shank 

Thunder Boy Jr.

by Sherman Alexie, illustrated by Yuyi Morales     

thunderboyThunder Boy’s name might sound unusual, but it is not. His name and his dad’s are the same. They are called Big Thunder and Little Thunder. Little Thunder loves his dad, but he has a secret: “I hate my name!” he says and “I want my own name.” He wants a name that expresses who he is. All through the pages of this book, Thunder Boy describes names that might fit him. Some of the names he mentions announce what he’s done; other names he considers value his Native American ancestry.

However, Little Thunder wants more than a name; he wants to be identified as himself. In this digitally colored picture book, Morales uses earthy shading by scanning clay brick colors and wood textures from parts of an antique house. This technique produces sensory illustrations that weave energetically through Alexie’s story.

An ingenious method of text use intersperses a conventional font with comic book type bubbles. Little Thunder’s sister and dog are his companions on each double page spread. These additions add humor and movement to expand the emotional depth of this tale. The seamless blend of Alexie’s and Morales’s work creates an accessible story book for young readers and listeners that addresses acceptance and identity issues.

Little Brown, $17.99  ––Interest Level: Junior Kindergarten – Grade 2


Dad and the Dinosaur

by Gennifer Choldenko, illustrated by Dan Santat

dad&dinoThere are many things Nick is afraid of: the dark, giant bugs, manhole covers and what might be underneath them. “His dad was not afraid of anything.” Nick wants to be brave like his dad, but he thinks he needs a dinosaur mascot to make it true. With the dinosaur tucked in his pocket or hidden inside his soccer sock, Nick can climb rock walls and score astonishing soccer goals.

But when the dinosaur is lost, everything seems creepy to Nick: “The night was black as octopus ink, giant bugs were everywhere.” When Nick tells his father that the dinosaur is the brave one, his Dad takes him searching again. When they find the dinosaur, Nick is reassured, especially after hearing dad say, “It’s okay to be afraid. All guys are now and then.”

The mixed-media artwork by Caldecott winner Santat makes effective use of dark and light. Particularly expressive are the nighttime scenes, as Nick’s imaginary fears suggestively sneak along the bottom of the page and at the edges of his vision. The spooky, fanciful illustrations keep this tale from becoming too frightening. This whimsical story invites young readers to safely explore what it takes to be brave and what is hidden within.

Putnam, $17.99 — Interest Level: Kindergarten – Grade 3
(This book is available to borrow at the Miami Dade Library. Also, may be purchased from local and online booksellers.)


and Tango Makes Three

by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, illustrated by Henry Cole

tangoIn this tale — based on a true story about a penguin family living in New York City’s Central Park Zoo — Roy and Silo, two boy penguins, are “a little bit different.” They are always together, even sharing a nest like the other penguin couples. When other penguin pairs start hatching eggs, Roy brings an egg-shaped rock to their nest, and Silo carefully sits on it.

Silo and Roy are eager and hopeful in their care. “But nothing happened.” A watchful zookeeper notices an egg in need of fostering, and places it in their nest. The devoted dads become experts, not only as the egg hatches, but caring for the hatchling as she grows.

The watercolor illustrations for this outstanding story feature irresistible penguins with expressive faces and attention-grabbing body language. Text and pictures are well matched, allowing readers the chance to simultaneously watch and hear the story unfold.

An author’s note at the end supplies additional information about Roy, Silo, Tango, and other chinstrap penguins.

Simon & Schuster, $9.99 (paperback) $17.99 (hardcover) — Interest Level: Pre-School – Kindergarten(This book is available to borrow at the Miami Dade Library. Also, may be purchased from local and online booksellers.)


Meribeth Shank works in the Media Center at Miami Country Day School, an independent school in Miami Shores, Florida, has taught classes on Writing Books for Children, and earned her MFA in Writing for children from Vermont College. You can also find her on the web: http://meribeths.blogspot.com

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