Thursday, June 15, 2017

It's Fathers Day on Sunday 18th June - Celebrate with some great "Dad" books!

It's Fathers Day this coming Sunday and what better way to celebrate with your Dad Du Jour than with a fantastic selection of books...!
Are you always surprised that there seem to be more "Dad" books around just before Father's Day than there are "Mum" books around Mother's Day? It makes sense when you consider that (sadly) mums are more likely to go out and buy a "Dad" book as a pressie for their hubbies on behalf of their kids than vice versa. Betcha didn't know that (thanks Louise at Egmont for that particular nugget of marketing nouse that makes absolutely perfect sense!)

Anyway, that aside, we'll kick off our celebration of great "Dad" books with a recent "Book of the Week winner and a book that really felt like it was talking about the sort of dad I am and want to be, rather than the usual daft clumsy gluttonous fellas we've all got a bit tired of.

"The Dressing Up Dad" by Maudie Smith and Paul Howard really is a fabulous celebration of 'hands on' dads (which I think I'm proud to label myself as. 

Danny LOVES dressing up. So does Danny's Dad! Whether it is pirates at a party or superheroes in the supermarket, they'll dress up anywhere, at any time, whatever the occasion.

A brilliantly funny and uplifting celebration of dads and the importance of being yourself! Perfect for kids aged 2+, this gorgeously illustrated picture book from the much loved illustrator of The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark is the perfect gift to share on Father's Day and we really do love it to bits.

We were lucky enough to be able to put a couple of questions to Maudie recently about her original and fantastic book...

Q: We love the dad in "Dressing up Dad" - was he based on anyone in particular?
A: Well he could have something to do with my husband. It used to be his job to dress up actually - since he was an actor - and he certainly had some pretty interesting costumes. Not long after we got together I saw him on TV dressed as a giant mouse, enthusiastically interviewing a candle. Who knows? It could be what clinched the deal! He's a TV writer nowadays but the dressing-up gene never leaves you, does it? He appeared at both my daughters' birthday parties as The Great Amazo, complete with fez, sparkly waistcoat and juggling pins. I seem to remember the party guests were amused and bemused in equal measure...

Q: Do you think there's a change in the wind with regards to dad characters? It feels like we've seen 'daft' dads for years but there seems to be a real trend in great dads recently (at last, hooray!)

A:Yes, I think there's a definite shift in the way children's fiction looks at dads and my theory is that it goes hand in hand with a shift in the way parenting works. When I was little, parents kept a bit more distance between themselves and their children - fathers probably more so than mothers. My own father was a bit like the dad in The Tiger Who Came to Tea. He was out working long hours, coming home in time for some of that all-important beer (!) and if I was lucky, to read me a bedtime story.

Modern parenting seems less formal and allows parents to be more on a level with their children, it's OK to be friends as well as parents, and it's for that reason that I think children's literature is showing us so many more fully rounded dads - and by that I don't mean overweight! We're just seeing more real dads: single dads, stay-at-home dads and hands-on dads. We're seeing 3D dads with genuine qualities, flaws and foibles. Proper dads. I like that.

"The Dressing Up Dad" by Maudie Smith and Paul Howard is out now, published by Oxford Children's Books / OUP. 

Next is a  fantastic book that gathers together just about every type of dad you can think of in a brilliant poetry A-Z.

"The Dictionary of Dads" by Justin Coe with illustrations by Steve Wells really has just about every dad 'type' that you can think of.

There are Big Bad Dads, hairy and grumpy, and Daddy Disaster (which Charlotte rather unfairly thinks is the closest fit for me - charming!)

There's even Mum-Dad, very much something for everyone in here and the entertaining and funny poems pay them all due homage.

"The Dictionary of Dads" by Justin Coe and Steve Wells is out now, published by Otter Barry Books. 

For younger children and also from Otter-Barry there's "My Daddy is a Silly Monkey" by Dianne Hofmeyr and Carol Thompson.

An imaginative children's story full of fabulous animal fun as a little girl imagines all the animals that her daddy can be like.

He can be like a great big hairy bear when he gets out of bed and grumbles and grouches, scratches and yawns!

Or like an octopus, tickly and wriggly. A crocodile at mealtimes. But most of all Daddy being Daddy is what the little girl loves best. 

Told from the perspective of a single parent dad bringing up a daughter, this is a fantastic little book that doesn't stray too far into 'Dads being Daft' territory. 

"My Daddy is a Silly Monkey" by Dianne Hofmeyr and Carol Thompson is out now, published by Otter-Barry Books. 

Last but not least, a book that cropped up on the blog quite recently and showed everyone how dad books should be written...!

Shirley Hughes sublime "Alfie and Dad" gathers together three stories about Alfie and his awesome dad as their adventures go from searching for a lost toy in the amazing London Transport Lost Property Office to a sleepover and tons of brilliant fun together. 

It's an idyllic portrayal of family life with a realistic dad character who doesn't come across as some sort of pratfalling nincompoop. 

We really hugely enjoy all of Shirley's stories, masterpieces of storytelling and illustrative brilliance. 

"Alfie and Dad" by Shirley Hughes is out now, published by Bodley Head.

We've got time for one more, perhaps even saving the best till last in the true spirit of this book. It just squeezed in just in the nick of time and it's an absolute belter for dads-and-daughters who are book lovers like us...

"Me and My Dad" by Robin Shaw is definitely something rather special. Written and illustrated by one of the key animators of the recent brilliant Channel 4 adaptations of "The Snowman and Snowdog" and "We're going on a Bear Hunt", it's a dazzling feast for the eyes and a glorious celebration of childhood imagination.

A little girl is heading out for the day with her dad. Through the streets, there's always something to see and stories to be weaved from the ordinary and everyday.

Each page spread leaps to life as the urban landscape is transformed into deep jungle, as dinosaurs rumble by overhead (well they're underground trains but in a child's imagination they make the same noise a herd of Diplodocuses do!)

"The best bit is at the end" we're told - and without being too spoilery about this lovely book, the little girl and her dad really aren't kidding - because at the end of their journey they find the sort of place we absolutely can't resist...

The Bookshop Cafe. Oh my goodness we want to live in there!
Again - please look away now if you're trying to avoid spoilers - but this cosy book nook is utterly wonderful. The best bit of all is spotting some rather lovely little references to and covers of our favourite book folk (Steve Antony and Jim field get a knowing wink or two - which was lovely to see. Contemporary books nestling amongst the classics!)

Glorious stuff. Definitely not one to miss.

"Me and My Dad" by Robin Shaw is out now, published by Hodder Children's Books. 

This one has been around for a while but it's still one of our fave cuddlesome dad books...

David Melling's "Just Like My Daddy" is now newly reprinted.

It's a perfect cuddly tale of a lion cub and his dad, enjoying their day and all the fantastic things lions get up to.

Learn to laze like a lion dad, but watch out for bees if you think you can dip your paw into the hive and snag a sweet treat!

"Just Like My Daddy" by David Melling is out now, published by Hodder Children's Books. 

Whatever you end up doing on Father's Day, I hope you get some quality Dad time to sit down and read some brilliant books together! Oh and Psst, fellas, don't let the side down next Mother's Day OK? You're making the rest of us look bad! C'mon!

1 comment :

  1. Thank you! Great to see all these books celebrating fathers! Esp delighted to have MY DADDY IS A SILLY MONKEY there. If anyone lives in the Clapham, Balham area, Carol and I are doing a story session with crocodile and tiger mask-making at the Omnibus Theatre at 10.30 on Sunday 18th. Entrance is free. Come and 'monkey' around with us on Father's Day.


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