My Daddy Rules the World: Poems about Dads by Hope Anita Smith (9780805091892, Amazon)
Coretta Scott King Award winner Smith returns with a new collection of poetry and illustrations that focuses on fathers. The book shows fathers who make breakfast and chat contrasted with others whose work keeps them far away but still in contact. There are fathers who cut hair, others who dance, others who wrestle or play catch. They teach their children to ride bikes or play instruments or read. Each poem is told in the voice of the child of that father and shows how very different dads can be but that they all love their children completely.
Smith writes poetry that is thoughtful and honed. She makes sure that it is appropriate for the young audience, inviting young readers to explore poetry and see themselves in it. The poems are misleadingly simple, not showing the skill that it takes to write at this level and with such apparent ease.
Smith’s illustrations are diverse and inclusive. With her torn paper illustrations, she makes sure to show families of various races and multiracial families. There is a warmth to the illustrations and a folk-art element that underlines the richness of being a father and in a family.
A strong collection of poems for young people, ideal to share with fathers. Appropriate for ages 7-10.
Reviewed from library copy.
Priscilla Gorilla by Barbara Bottner, illustrated by Michael Emberley (9781481458979, Amazon)
The bestselling duo behind the Miss Brooks books returns with a new book. Priscilla loves gorillas, mostly because they get to do whatever they want. She acts like them and dances like them. She loves to wear her gorilla costume all the time, particularly at school. But because she acts like a gorilla, her teacher puts her in the Thinking Corner sometimes. As Priscilla starts to be seen as a troublemaker, other children join her in the Thinking Corner in their own costumes. But perhaps it’s not being really gorilla-like to be so troublesome, since gorillas are also known for cooperating together. Can Priscilla figure out how to be true to her own inner gorilla even if it means cooperating?
Bottner has such a way with capturing the spirit of childhood on the page. Priscilla speaks for all children as she struggles to navigate the lines between being troublesome, being an individual, and cooperating with others. Bottner writes in an engaging way, allowing the story to unwind at a natural pace that keeps readers caught up in the story. The book ends with Priscilla’s class visiting the zoo and the book beautifully comes full circle as cooperation merges with gorilla dancing.
Emberley’s illustrations are superb. He depicts all of the children in their animal costumes with a wry sense of humor, plushness, bent tails and wrinkles. One wants to crawl into a costume and join the fun. The depiction of Priscilla’s parents and teacher are also cleverly done, showing parents who are allowing their daughter to figure things out but also giving a gentle gorilla nudge in the right direction.
Funny and smart, I’m bananas about this picture book. Appropriate for ages 4-6.
Reviewed from copy received from Atheneum.