June 19 is Father's Day, and a fine excuse for Shelf Awareness to round up some children's books about fathers, none of whom, curiously, is obsessed with golf, beer, fishing or sports.
A Brave Bear by Sean Taylor, illus. by Emily Hughes (Candlewick, $16.99, hardcover, 9780763682248, 32p., ages 2-5, April 12, 2016)
One hot summer day, a father bear says to his cub, "I think a pair of hot bears is probably the hottest thing in the world." They amble to the river to cool off, but not without the cub being the "jumpiest," "bravest" and then, finally, "wettest" thing in the world. British author Sean Taylor (Hoot Owl, Master of Disguise, illustrated by Jean Jullien) tells a winning story of the trials and triumphs of a day with dad, and Emily Hughes (Wild) captures the tender father-cub bond in her irresistible pencil drawings.
My Dad at the Zoo by Coralie Saudo, illus. by Kris Di Giacomo (Enchanted Lion, $17.95 hardcover, 9781592701902, 32p., ages 3-7, May 7, 2016)
In this wacky, whimsically illustrated sequel to My Dad Is Big & Strong, BUT..., Dad wants to go to the zoo with his son on Sunday morning. But Dad behaves badly, as usual: "He's grimacing at the gorillas, flirting with the flamingos, pattering like the penguins, terrorizing the turtles." Can his son survive the exhausting day with his tantrum-prone, piranha-poking parent?
Ask Me by Bernard Waber, illus. by Suzy Lee (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $16.99 hardcover, 40p., ages 4-7, 9780547733944, July 14, 2015)
The late Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile author Bernard Waber's Ask Me is about a human father and daughter on a walk. Their conversation, fresh and real, reflects all the love and the history they've shared: "What else do I like? / What else do you like? / I like sand. I like digging in the sand. I really, really do like digging in the sand. Deep, deep, down, down in the sand. / And I like seashells. Remember when we collected seashells? / I remember. / And I like starfish." This lovely back-and-forth winds over hill and dale until, finally, teeth are brushed and pajamas are on: "Good night." A disarming father-daughter story for Father's Day--or any day.
The Most Important Thing: Stories About Sons, Fathers, and Grandfathers by Avi (Candlewick, $16.99, hardcover, 9780763681111, 224p., ages 10-up, April 26, 2016)
Avi, author of one Newbery winner (Crispin: The Cross of Lead) and two Newbery Honor books, explores the father-son relationship in seven short stories about seven boys, a sequel to What Do Fish Have to Do with Anything? The question Avi asks in all of these tales is "What is the most important thing a father can do for his son?" This strong collection doesn't shy away from hard truths, and is poignant and hopeful in equal measure.
Mother Bruce by Ryan T. Higgins (Disney/Hyperion, $17.99, hardcover, 9781484730881, 48p., ages 3-7, November 24, 2015)
Mother Goose--rather, Mother Bruce--is the laugh-out-loud funny story of a grouchy bear who reluctantly becomes the guardian of four goslings, when all he wanted to do was eat them. "Bruce was a bear who lived all by himself. He was a grump." The one thing he does like is eggs. After grabbing Mrs. Goose by the neck to inquire if her eggs are "free-range organic," he buys them and begins preparations to hard-boil them. When--surprise!--they hatch, the cute yellow goslings crawl and tumble all over him. As the geese grow up and show no signs of migrating, Mother Bruce resigns himself to his goose-guardian fate and they all bus to Miami for the winter.
Monster & Son by David LaRochelle, illus. by Joey Chou (Chronicle, $16.99, hardcover, 9781452129372, 32p., ages 4-8, April 12, 2016)
Even monsters have fathers, and in David LaRochelle's (It's a Tiger!; Moo!) rhyming picture book, a father's voice lovingly speaks to his son, whether father and son take the shape of a cyclops, skeleton or King Kong family: "You woke me with a monstrous roar,/ my brave and fearless son, and led the way that filled our day/ with rough and rowdy fun." Joey Chou's (Say What?) terrific, stylized illustrations capture Frankenstein father-and-son tickle fights, daddy dragon jokes, and mummy pre-bedtime chases with humor and affection: "Your fearsome yawns won't frighten me,/ I'll hug you strong and tight,/ then gently tuck you into bed/ while whispering... good night." (That last line is whispered upside down, by a Dracula dad.)