Happy Poetry Friday and Happy Father’s Day Weekend!
I can’t think of a better way to celebrate all the cool dads in the world than with Hope Anita Smith’s brand new poetry picture book, My Daddy Rules the World: Poems About Dads (Henry Holt, 2017).
Through fifteen heartwarming poems told in a child’s voice, Smith captures the singular bond between father and child as evidenced in everyday activities such as eating, dancing, playing music, and reading. Smith focuses on those small, intimate moments and interactions that mean so much to children, and every one of these gems brims with pride, adoration and pure love.
My daddy is a porcupine
with whiskers that are prickly.
My daddy is an octopus
who finds where I am tickly
My daddy is a tall giraffe
who lifts me to the sky.
My daddy is a sea eagle
who teaches me to fly.
My daddy is a wise old owl
who stays up late at night.
My daddy is a big brown bear
with arms that hug me tight.
The poems are paired with Smith’s beautiful torn paper collages that feature fathers, sons and daughters in a variety of skin tones without facial features. I love how Hope is able to convey so much warmth and emotion through body language: an affectionate tilt of the head, a concerned hand lifting a chin, the reassurance of Dad holding the bike seat, being encircled in Dad’s arms as he reads aloud or teaches guitar.
Kids will easily relate to these instances of Dad as friend, mentor, playmate, role model, teacher and super hero, nodding in recognition at the Dads who snore loudly, like to wrestle on the floor, help with homework, and yes, discipline them. They might be able to recognize their dad’s occupation from the list in “Some Dads,” which includes dads who “go to offices,” “carry big long tubes,” “wear uniforms and fly across the sky,” “work many hours and get home late at night,” and the greatest job of all, the “dad that stays at home.”
I love all the poems so it’s hard to pick a favorite, though the especially poignant “Love Letter,” where a boy writes to his military dad, brought a tear to my eye. It ends with:
My daddy —
he is far away.
I wish him home
most every day.
“Playing Catch” is especially timely in today’s work-obsessed society. A dad has promised to play catch with his son when he’s done with work, and the boy patiently waits. Once the sun begins to set, the boy’s hopes are dashed and he tries to be understanding, knowing how busy his dad is. To his surprise, his dad shows up after all. I’m sure many kids will be able to relate to this brand of disappointment, and it will feel good to read about an instance where Dad comes through.
My Daddy Rules the World is a nice companion to Smith’s Mother Poems, which was written for an older audience. Both books showcase Hope Anita Smith’s brilliance at crafting beautiful, insightful, emotionally resonant poems that go straight to the heart and stay with you for a long time.
My Daddy Rules the World has already earned three well deserved *starred reviews* from Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, and Kirkus. With its timeless message — that children value not only the many things their fathers do for them, but perhaps even moreso the things they do with them, this book is well on its way to becoming a perennial favorite.
Hope has dedicated the book to “every man ‘fathering’ a child and to those who stand in the gap offering guidance, love, and support to children in need.” It’s nice to see them getting their due.
Here are three more poems to whet your appetite. 🙂
My daddy is a funny man.
Sometimes he will just take my hand
and ask me if I’d like to dance.
I say yes — I grab his pants
and carefully step on his feet.
Then we start moving to the beat.
When he steps left, I step there, too.
Then we step right — one, two, one, two.
Round and round the room I go,
holding tight to the best dad I know.
He picks me up. Gives me a spin.
The more we twirl, the more I grin.
The most fun that I’ve ever had
is going dancing with my dad.
Sometimes I forget
I’m supposed to be good.
I do what I want
and not what I should.
Then my daddy’s voice
is as loud as the sea,
and I know I’m in trouble —
his words swallow me.
I’m sent to my room,
and all of his words
thunder and boom.
I feel really bad,
and my heart, it feels sore
’cause I’m thinking my best friend
don’t like me no more.
Then Daddy comes in.
I look down at the ground.
His hand lifts my chin.
My heart starts to pound.
His eyes look at my eyes,
and his voice is real low.
He says, “Buddy, there’s something
I want you to know.
Wherever you go
and whatever you do,
we’ll always be best friends.
That will always be true.”
MY DADDY RULES THE WORLD
He helps me with my homework
and always gets it right.
He teaches me “most of the time,
it’s better not to fight.”
He drives me to my baseball game
and other games I play.
And best of all, no matter what,
he always wants to stay.
He knows the names of all my friends,
fist bumps and says, “My man.”
He tells me that there is no “can’t,”
there’s only “yes, I can.”
Whenever I have a problem,
he knows just what to do:
“In order to solve anything,
be honest, kind, and true.”
My dad, he is a super man.
He doesn’t need a cape
or the great big “S” I made
out of masking tape.
My daddy knows most everything
when his powers are unfurled,
and I’m not scared of anything —
my daddy rules the world.
How well I remember dancing with my dad while stepping on his feet! Speaking of which, one of my favorite “tricks” was to rubber band three of his toes together while he was napping (which he did a lot). When he got up and tried to walk, he couldn’t figure out why his foot felt funny. 😀
What are some of your favorite childhood daddy stories?
MY DADDY RULES THE WORLD: Poems About Dads
written and illustrated by Hope Anita Smith
published by Christy Ottaviano Books/Henry Holt & Co., May 16, 2017
Poetry Picture Book for ages 4-8, 32 pp.
**Starred Reviews** from Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal and Kirkus
Lovely Carol Wilcox is hosting the Roundup at Carol’s Corner. Click through to check out the full menu of poetic goodness being served up in the blogosphere this week.
Have a good day on Sunday honoring, remembering, and celebrating your Dad!
Copyright © 2017 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.