While moms may wince at the thought of dads who never grow up, plenty of young children will be delighted and amused by the idea—especially when they hear the descriptions and see the pictures in When Dads Don’t Grow Up, a picture book by Marjorie Blain Parker, with illustrations by R. W. Alley. Great for Father’s Day or any time of the year, this sweet tribute to dads focuses on fathers who “remember what it’s like to be little.” The ethnically diverse dads pictured in the book have no hesitation getting down on the floor to play with trains or engage in shopping cart races. (I also love the fact that the book subtly shows dads in different kinds of jobs—as a florist, a doctor, a businessman, and a construction worker.) “They know that milk tastes better through a straw” and “that bubble wrap is for popping.” They like to watch cartoons and they don’t mind sharing a couch with a preschooler and all her tea party-loving stuffed animals. For each characteristic that Parker describes, Alley creates humorous illustrations that exude tenderness and joy. We see dads enthusiastically reading to their kids at bedtime; we see dads playing outside with their kids in all kinds of weather.
Sometimes their zest for life gets them into trouble. Case in point: Scenes that show dads enjoying “indoor sports” (like playing catch with the dog in the living room and playing an impromptu game of hockey with umbrellas and a ball) are followed by vignettes that illustrate the point that these fathers are, by necessity, also “pretty good at fixing things.” The father playing with the dog is now seen repairing a broken lamp; the hockey dad is now spackling holes in the wall. Often times, these fathers are easy to spot. They “aren’t worried about looking goofy” and their silly behavior makes them stick out in any crowd. In one vignette, a dad volunteers at a circus to have a pie thrown at his face by a clown. In another, a dad gets stuck while trying to go through a tube-slide.
Parker ends with the ultimate compliment: “Don’t be fooled. They may look like grown-ups on the outside, but underneath they’re just like us…KIDS!”
What do you like to read for Father’s Day? Can you recommend other books that feature the bond between dads and their offspring?
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