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.

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