Dope Black Dads

In a recent Talks with Roger interview, Michael Datcher and Frank Morrison broach the issue of harmful misrepresentation of Black fathers in popular discourse while discussing their picture book Harlem at Four. In recent years, several high-profile studies have shattered myths and misconceptions about Black fathers. These three picture books also free Black dads from the trammels of negative stereotypes and illustrate their importance and engagement in the lives of their children. 

Figueroa, Raissa What My Daddy Loves 

32 pp. | HarperCollins/Clarion | May, 2023 | Trade ISBN 978-0-358-58877-1 $19.99 

Using succinct declarative statements, and the sentence opener “My daddy loves” as a refrain throughout the text, Figueroa identifies thirteen routine activities that the fathers in this book delight in doing with their kids. The visual imagery moves from rise-and-shine to bedtime and depicts an assortment of Black dads bonding with their children in various settings, including a food garden, supermarket, the woods, and more. Impressionistic touches in the digital illustrations (broken color; contrasts between warm and cool hues; soft, undefined edges) convey a sense of the transience of cherished moments and the spontaneity of the father-child interactions. This celebration of paternal devotion isn’t one-note; exuberance and joy trade with glimpses of quiet and upset, but comfort predominates. The revelation that “what my daddy loves most of me” rounds off the book triumphantly.  

Liu-Trujillo, Robert Fresh Juice 

32 pp. | Lee | July, 2023 | Trade ISBN 978-1-64379-113-5 $19.95 

Daddy is indisposed, so Art, a Black boy, suggests they whip up some “sick-fighting juice” — but alas, the refrigerator is devoid of fresh produce. The pair commutes to the city center where visits to the farmers’ market, food co-op, and West African store prove fruitful (no pun intended), thanks to the lay advice of a multiethnic cast of community friends. When ginger root eludes them and a transportation hiccup leaves them stranded, Art’s stepfather, Dhillon, unexpectedly comes to the rescue. Once at home, Art’s stepfamily and their friends prepare and savor a juice remedy. Liu-Trujillo’s straightforward text and understated watercolor illustrations affirm multiracial households and non-traditional family structures. A STEM element (Dhillon uses a human-powered bike blender) adds to the informativeness of this tale of community healing. A juice recipe is appended. 

Thurman, Brittany J. Forever and Always 

40 pp. | Greenwillow | January, 2024 | Trade ISBN 978-0-06-314078-3 $19.99 

Illustrated by Shamar Knight-Justice. When Daddy, an emergency medical technician, departs for work each day, time seems to drag on “forever and ever and ever” as Olivia, a young Black girl, and her mother count the hours until his return. They “always” miss him, and fears for his safety prey on their minds, but a grounding daily routine — fixing breakfast together, completing chores, styling Olivia’s hair, making a forever bracelet that will “protect [Daddy] always” — boosts their morale. Hugs, laughter, daddy-daughter dances, and cozy family dinners mark the trio’s end-of-day reunions, feelingly portrayed in the pattern-rich digital-mixed-media illustrations. An author’s note reflecting on the heightened, everyday endangerment of Black lives adds context to Thurman’s heartening narrative about love’s perennial power in the face of life’s precious fragility. 


Summer Edward

Summer Edward is a Trinidadian American author, children’s book editor, educator, K-12 literacy specialist, Caribbean children’s and YA literature advocate, and commentator on books for young readers. She holds an M.S.Ed. degree in Reading, Writing, Literacy from the University of Pennsylvania and founded Anansesem, an online magazine that for 10 years covered Caribbean children’s and YA literature. She has written for Kirkus ReviewsSchool Library JournalThe Horn BookWOW Stories: Connections from the ClassroomLiteracy Dailysx salon, KidLit TV, the Commonwealth Education Trust, Social Justice Books, and more. Learn more about her work at

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