Review: My Dad Is Big and Strong, But… by Coralie Saudo

my dad is big and strong but

My Dad Is Big and Strong, But… by Coralie Saudo, illustrated by Kris Di Giacomo

Released May 8, 2012.

Translated from the French, this picture book takes the traditional bedtime story and turns it upside down.  Every night it’s the same thing, Dad does not want to go to bed.  The boy tries to get his father to bed nicely by using logic, but his dad just gets wilder and wilder.  The boy refuses to chase after him, instead offering a quiet story together.  That always works, and the two of them sit together in a chair: the father on the boy’s small lap.  Two stories later, and the boy finally has his father tucked into bed, but the process is not done yet.  The boy can’t head to his own bed yet or his father will ask to sleep with him.  And though his father may be big and strong, he’s also afraid of the dark.

This picture book has a wonderful charm about it that really works.  While there are other books that turn the parent/child relationship around, this one does it with a gentleness and honest joyfulness that is simply lovely.  A large part of this is the tone of the writing.  The sentence structure also works well, showing the skill of the translation.  The book plays with so many of the stereotypes of getting children to sleep that it is a delight to share with children.

Giacomo’s illustrations keep the size of the father and son as different as possible.  As you can see from the cover, the boy is quite small.  It is that size difference that adds so much humor to the illustrations, especially when the father is sitting on the boy’s lap for a story.  Another wonderful whimsical touch is the way the father heads to bed in hat and tie, rather than pajamas. 

Doing a pajama or bedtime story time?  This book would work very well there.  It is also a great pick for bedtime snuggles, though you might find yourself on your child’s lap just to try it out.  Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from Enchanted Lion Books.