Review of With Dad

With Dad With Dad
by Richard Jackson; illus. by Brian Floca
Primary    Porter/Holiday    40 pp.
5/24    9780823444953    $18.99
e-book ed.  9780823455362    $11.99

“In Michigan country on a two-rut road along a stream called the upper South Branch of the Au Sable River,” a young boy sits on his father’s lap in a red Jeep, two sets of hands on the steering wheel, as they head out on a camping trip. Set in the early 1950s and rooted in Jackson’s own boyhood memories, this homage to a moment in time is beautifully rendered and made specific in poetic text and brilliant illustrations of fly fishing, catching brown trout, cooking on an open fire, and trying to spot an owl. But that was last summer, and now winter has come to their Michigan town, a gray-blue world of snow-covered houses with yellow lights; the boy is on his mother’s lap, thinking of “Dad now as he drives another Jeep in a far-away war.” Floca’s stunning yet gentle illustrations in pen, ink, watercolor, and gouache were completed after Jackson’s death in 2019 and capture the varied greens of a summer day in the country, the shimmering light on a trout half in and half out of the water, and the eerie moon in a nighttime sky. The effective interplay of text and art makes this slender tale of reminiscence unforgettable.

From the May/June 2024 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Dean Schneider

Dean Schneider teaches eighth grade English at the Ensworth School in Nashville, Tennessee.

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