My Dad Used To Be So Cool

illus. by Keith Negley. 48p. Flying Eye. Jun. 2016. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781909263949.
PreS-Gr 1—This is the story of a father and a son and the day they spend together. This simple premise mixes humor and the perfect amount of emotional heft for a story that resonates. Through spare text, the boy narrates that he knows his dad "used to be cool," because he was in a band and rode a motorcycle. As he wonders why his dad gave it all up, readers infer that the father would rather spend time with his son than pursue his old interests. The illustrations use a primary color scheme that supports the poignant mood created by the text. In many of the illustrations, the focal point is a single object in the foreground that takes up most of the space on the page (the motorcycle in the yard, the father kneeling over to tie his son's shoe). This makes the illustrations engaging, especially for young readers. The dad is drawn with prominent tattoos, which lends the father/son duo an inclusive feel and presents one representation of a modern family. The most appealing element of the book is that it works on two levels. Children will appreciate the humor and bold illustrations, while the greater message will be meaningful to parents and other adult readers.
VERDICT This is a recommended purchase for any children's collection and would be a great addition to storytime programming.

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