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Father’s Day 2017

For Father’s Day, here are some recent books for preschoolers that celebrate the warmth between children and their fathers, stepfathers, grandfathers, and father figures. (After reading these, revisit last year’s Thunder Boy, Jr. by Sherman Alexie and Yuyi Morales!)

After finishing his swimming lessons and passing his test, the star of Jabari Jumps is ready to jump off the diving board at the community pool! Before he jumps, however, Jabari decides it would be kind if he let all the children behind him in line jump first. And it would be prudent to stretch. Finally, Jabari admits that he might be a little…scared. Luckily, our young hero has a support system: loving encouragement from his father and baby sister. Against a backdrop of warm brown skin tones and cool aqua water, debut author-illustrator Gaia Cornwall presents an empowering and celebratory story. (Candlewick, 2–5 years)

In Bruna Barros’s wordless Brazilian import The Carpenter, a small overalls-clad child’s attention is diverted from his or her electronic screen by a carpenter’s folding wood ruler. The child plays with the ruler, happily shaping it into a house, a car, an elephant, and a dinosaur. Pleasure turns to alarm after the child fashions a whale, which brings a rush of water through which the child must swim back to the carpenter’s workbench — where, as it turns out, for the book’s entire duration the carpenter has been building a small wooden boat. Escape! Child and adult share the same skin color (dark brown) and overalls color (orange), establishing a connection between the two without necessitating a word. (Gibbs Smith, 2–5 years)

With his older siblings away at sailing camp, all Little Pig — star of Little Pig Saves the Ship by David Hyde Costello — can do is stay home and practice his knot-tying skills. But then his grandfathers, Grandpa and Poppy, bring him a toy boat Poppy has carved for him, which keeps him entertained all week. Friendly watercolors capture the hustle-and-bustle of a large family, Little Pig’s initial loneliness, and summer days spent knee-deep in a pooled-up stream. The intergenerational friendship between Poppy and Little Pig is heartwarming, and the open-to-interpretation presentation of the grandfathers in the illustrations (it’s implied that Grandpa and Poppy are a couple, but not overtly stated) is just right. (Charlesbridge, 3–6 years)

Mama is getting married, leaving Jackson to worry about his place in the new arrangement. What will he call Mama’s new husband? How will it work out with a new sister? But for now, one question plagues him: how will he safely navigate the long church aisle without tripping and falling or dropping the rings? In The Ring Bearer, author-illustrator Floyd Cooper reflects the warm feel of this special family day. Here we have stepdad Bill somberly passing the rings to Jackson. Next, Bill hoists Jackson to his shoulders in a joyous celebration. Many children experience parental weddings, and these times are filled with joy and nervousness. Cooper captures each moment. (Philomel, 4–7 years)

From the June 2017 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

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Elissa Gershowitz About Elissa Gershowitz

Elissa Gershowitz is executive editor of The Horn Book, Inc. She is a current member of the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee.

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