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Picture Books for Father’s Day 2019

Father’s Day is this Sunday, and if you are celebrating, here are some picture books to make Dad’s or Granddad’s day. Also be sure not to miss one of our faves of the year, My Papi Has a Motorcycle by Isabel Quintero, illustrated by Zeke Peña, and their Five Questions interview that kicked off our Summer Reading list. For more recommended picture books for Father’s Day, check out this featured list on the shiny and new Horn Book Guide Online.

In Side by Side, Chris Raschka presents six pairs of fathers and children reveling in their loving relationships. A series of double-page spreads playfully depicts each of the pairs, using only three words each (e.g., “horse and rider,” “queen and jester,” “side by side”). Raschka’s loose, impressionistic watercolors convey both active and tranquil moments, communicating clearly and joyfully that there is nothing else in the world as important as being together. (Phaidon, 3–5 years)

In the playful, visually appealing Our Car by J. M. Brum, a child and father go exploring in a car “as red as a fire engine.” When not zooming through the (landscape-oriented) story, they put on tires, wash the car, pull a trailer, observe a mechanic, and more. In Jan Baitlik’s illustrations, vivid colors pop off uncluttered spreads with generous white space. The imaginative twist ending on the final endpapers will leave readers smiling. (Roaring Brook/Porter, 3–5 years)

As a little girl and her father make a special birthday cake, Daddy tells her about his own father, Grandpa Cacao, from the Ivory Coast. When the cake is ready, Mommy announces a surprise visitor: “the best birthday present ever in the world!” Grandpa Cacao: A Tale of Chocolate, from Farm to Family by Elizabeth Zunon, with its striking patchwork-patterned illustrations, points to the importance of traditions to those in the African diaspora. (Bloomsbury, 5–8 years)

In Ojiichan’s Gift, Mayumi’s grandfather, who lives “halfway around the world” in Japan, builds a garden made of stones and gravel that the two can enjoy when she visits each summer. Genevieve Simms’s watercolor illustrations, in soft, earthy tones, show the passage of time as both Mayumi and Ojiichan grow older — until eventually Ojiichan can no longer live alone and must leave the garden. Author Chieri Uegaki presents a quiet look at traditions, change, and the special relationships between grandparents and children. (Kids Can, 5–8 years)

From the June 2019 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

Martha V. Parravano About Martha V. Parravano

Martha V. Parravano is book review editor of The Horn Book, Inc., and co-author of the Calling Caldecott blog.

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