A Dad and Lad Mix-up

The mustachioed Peek has a monkey on his back. And his head.

Mr. Peek and the Misunderstanding at the Zoo
By Kevin Waldron
Templar Books, $15.99, ages 2-7

Observant kids will note there are two green jackets hanging from the pegs in Mr. Peek’s front hall as he’s getting ready to go to his job at the zoo. The one he puts on is waytootight, fouling his mood and sending Mr. Peek into spasms of self-recrimination beginning with his out-loud declarations about weight gain – “You’re getting very fat,” he tells himself, a remark meant for his ears only that, unfortunately, the hippo believes is directed at her. And so it goes, as Mr. Peek inadvertently insults the penguins, the bear, the elephant, as he berates himself while making the morning rounds. Ah, but then his son shows up in a w a y t o o b i g green jacket and Mr. Peek’s good humor is restored. He reverses course, this time brimming with only positive things to say. The animals’ worries dissolve, too. There are a couple of on-point messages here for the kindergarten set – be careful what you say out loud, don’t believe everything you hear, (not everything is about you), a good mood is contagious (as is a foul one). But most of all there are hilarious illustrations with clever touches everywhere, sure to spread smiles and elicit giggles.

Perfectly Silly Fare for Father’s Day

Oh, Daddy! by Bob Shea
HarperCollins, $16.99, (infants and toddlers)

This clever lesson in reverse psychology (disguised as a picture book) empowers a little hippo to think he’s helping his daffy daddy learn how to do very simple tasks like getting dressed (Dad is shown with his underwear on his head and his foot in a bucket) or getting going (They need to pick up the pace to get to Grandma’s.  Dad wonders if you enter the car by going through the passenger side window.) Shea’s bold artwork is vivid and funky. The minimal backgrounds keep the focus on the loving, playful relationship between Mr. Hippo (with his kidney bean-shaped head) and his helpful (if occasionally distracted) toddler.

This would work as a read-aloud in which the child reads his own part (mostly “Oh, Daddy!”) but might also inspire some creative thinking on the part of both parent and child on how to get mundane things done without ever losing your cool. Like one of my favorite picture books of all time, William Steig’s Pete’s A Pizza, this is a book that could be used to establish a new dynamic between a parent and child.

Writing Books Boys Will Read

Thanks to all who attended my presentation at the Virginia State Reading Association conference this morning and, more importantly, thanks for all you do to connect books with readers, especially our reluctant-to-read sons. It is really important work!

Here is a link to the slide show.  Feel free to contact me if you have more questions.

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(The version of the presentation in the window above is from SlideShare, and you can download a high-resolution version of the presentation from there. If you’d rather download it without registering with Slideshare, a heavily compressed PowerPoint is here. If you need a PDF version rather than PowerPoint, it’s here.)

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