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[Monday Reading] Ode to Fatherhood in European Picturebooks

"Big Boys Cry" by Jonty Howley | "I Need all Of It" by Petra Postert and Jens Rassmus with translations by Henriette Schroeder | "Dad By My Side" by Soosh.

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It's Monday! What Are You Reading

Myra here.

It’s Monday, What are You Reading is a meme hosted by Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers (new host of Monday reading: Kathryn T at Book Date). Since two of our friends, Linda from Teacher Dance and Tara from A Teaching Life have been joining this meme for quite awhile now, we thought of joining this warm and inviting community. 

While these picturebooks do not exactly fit our current reading theme, consider this our own way of celebrating Father’s Day by highlighting these three picturebooks by European creators.


Big Boys Cry [Amazon | Book Depository]

Written and Illustrated by Jonty Howley
Published by Random House Books for Young Readers (2019)
ISBN: 1524773204 (ISBN13: 9781524773205). Borrowed from Singapore National Library Board Overdrive. Book photos taken by me. 

It is Levi’s first day in his new school, and he is naturally apprehensive. His father, at a loss on how to comfort him, gave him the best pep talk ever: “Big boys don’t cry.”

As Levi struggled desperately to not cry while walking to school, he came across grown men who all seem to be overcome by huge emotions, from poets to bakers to soldiers – they all seem to unabashedly express their emotions through tears:

First day of school turned out to be pretty uneventful, but there was one important lesson that Levi learned throughout the day, as the title clearly indicates. I like how there is character growth – notwithstanding how unlikely it is to chance upon so many grown men in just one morning crying copious tears in public. There was also an adult’s recognition of a not-so-good advice and an acknowledgment that everyone cries.


I Need All Of It [Amazon | Book Depository]

Written by Petra Postert Illustrated by Jens Rassmus Translated by Henriette Schroeder
Published by Feiwel & Friends (2018) Original Title: Das brauch ich alles noch! (2015) ISBN: 1250112710 (ISBN13: 9781250112712). Borrowed from Singapore’s National Library Board Overdrive. Book photos taken by me. 

A young boy and his father are sorting through laundry – and for those who do this regularly, the tediousness of separating the dark-coloured clothes from the white ones and adjusting the temperature can be mind-numbing. Yet, this boy somehow transformed it to something else, especially when his father discovered a stone, a key, a button in his son’s trousers:

Jim, the young boy, argued that he needs each and everyone of them: they are rare treasures indeed.

Instead of dismissing the young boy’s fantastical imaginings, the father can not help but insert his own asides and witticisms that most parents would undoubtedly be able to appreciate. He was not terribly impatient, convincingly credulous, and occasionally frustrated but never patronizing.

I especially enjoyed the child’s sense of agency and his vision that is distinctively his, not tainted by the father’s occasional suggestions and narrative. A lovely picturebook that both parents and children would undoubtedly enjoy.


Dad By My Side [Amazon | Book Depository]

Written and Illustrated by Soosh
Published by Little Brown Books for Young Readers (2018)
ISBN: 0316438081 (ISBN13: 9780316438087). Borrowed from Singapore’s National Library Board Overdrive. Book photos taken by me. 

I naturally saved the best for last. While most people would probably find the narrative to be slightly maudlin and expected, I thought it felt authentic. This may be brought about by the fact that I am a huge fan of the art:

As can be seen in the image above, it is the art which takes central stage here rather than the text – at least for me. I love the layout, typography, and the overall design with plenty of white spaces for the eye to rest. The contrast between the massive girth of the father and the teeny-tiny fragile-looking daughter is also a sight to behold.

I especially liked how the young girl has always felt empowered in this relationship: there is a sense of safety, comfort, and a recognition of her value, worth and contribution to this little family of two.

I understand that this is Soosh’s first picturebook. I would definitely read more of her picturebooks in the future.


#ReadIntl2020 Update: 22 of 30 (country): Ukraine (Soosh is from Ukraine).

Germany (Petra Postert and Jens Rassmus are from Germany).

Free Delivery on all Books at the Book Depository

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

7 comments on “[Monday Reading] Ode to Fatherhood in European Picturebooks

  1. Picture books are the best, aren’t they?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Completely Full Bookshelf

    All of these picture books sound so sweet! Big Boys Cry sounds like a great way to show kids that it’s okay to cry, and Dad By My Side looks adorable as well! Thanks for the great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. lindabaie

    Darling ‘dad’ picture books, Myra. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow, you have racked up a lot of countries! I do like that giant dad book.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Ah Dad by my Side is gorgeous, I too love the art and the thoughts as well. I want them all!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. These books are so cute! I love the illustrations in all of them.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. These are all absolutely precious!! I would love to read them with my kiddos this fall (wish I’d gotten to them in time for Father’s Day, but oh well…). Thanks for sharing, Myra!

    Like

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