Category Archives: Book Reviews
By Liz Arrambide, Children’s Department
Celebrate National Hispanic Month Tues. Sept. 15 thru Thur. Oct. 15, 2015 with a few titles that will put an “¡Ole!” into your day!
- Flutter and Hum: Animal Poems/ Aleto y Zumbido.: Poemas de Animales by Julie Paschkis
This Poem book is “sabroso”, Mmmm! delicious! I can easily picture a child in my lap and each of us studying the wonderful detailed drawings and the animal poems that make us smile. It doesn’t matter if we are reading about a snake that only can say one letter “SSS” or a turtle that moves slowly so rubies and emeralds do not fall from her shell. In both English and Spanish the book is “muy rico”/ very rich with delightful illustrations to savor.
- Green is a Chile Pepper: a Book of Colors and Round is a Torilla: a book of shapes by Roseanne Greenfield Thong
In this lively picture book, children discover a world of colors all around them: red is spices and swirling skirts, yellow is masa, tortillas, and sweet corn cake. Many of the featured objects are Latino in origin, and all are universal in appeal.
- Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match/ Marisol McDonald no combina by /por Monica Brown.
Marisol has flaming red hair like her Scotch American dad and nut brown skin like her Peruvian mom. She loves dressing in a wild mixture of polka dots and stripes. Peanut butter and jelly burritos are her favorite lunch food. One day she decides to dress and act like everyone else, so she will match. Is it worth making the change? A great bilingual English/Spanish read aloud for grades 1-3.
- Musicians of the Sun by Gerald McDermott
This is based on an Aztec legend. The Lord of the Night was worried because the people worked all day and night in the dark. They did not laugh or sing. So the Lord of the Night asked the Wind to help free the Three Musicians from the Lord Sun. This is a well told and beautifully illustrated version of this Mexican legend.
- Playing Loteria/ El juego de la Loteria by/ por Rene Colato Lainez.
A Young boy from the U.S. is visiting his grandmother in Mexico. He only knows a little bit of Spanish and she speaks only a little bit of English. How will they be able to talk to each other? This is a lovely bilingual story where they learn each other’s language through the Mexican version of Bingo. This is called Lotería. They discover that loved ones have a special way of understanding each other.
- Sip, Slurp, Soup, Soup/ Caldo, Caldo, Caldo by Diane Gonzales Bertrand
In Houston, Texas a family gets ready for Caldo Day. “Caldo de res” is a Mexican soup with lots of vegetables, potatoes, cilantro, stew meat and garlic. The special soup calms a cough, soothes sore muscles and makes everyone feel better. While mom makes the soup, the rest of the family buys the tortillas at the Tortillería, where tortillas are made. You can almost taste the fresh tortillas and delicious soup. A recipe for caldo is included. ‘¡Disfrute! Enjoy!
- Up and Down the Andes: A Peruvian Festival Tale by Laurie Krebs and Aurelia Fronty.
Children from all over Peru come by bus, boat, train, truck and walking for the Sun King’s Festival in Cusco, Peru on June 24. They participate in the dancing, the parades and the wonderful parties. This is a beautiful book that shows the different areas of Peru.
- Yum! ¡MmMm! ¡Que Rico! By Pat Mora.
North and South America grow delicious foods. When Columbus and other explorers brought to Europe some of these new foods, the people all gained needed weight and became healthier. Find out about some of these wonderful vegetables and fruits that started here in the Americas. These are described in short poems called haikus with brief descriptions of these foods; corn, blueberry, chile, chocolate and more! Yum!
Books for Grades 4-8:
- 90 Miles to Havana by Enrique Flores-Galbis J F FLO Grades 5-8
The author came to the U.S. in 1961 from Cuba with his two brothers. He was 9 years old and part of Operation Pedro Pan, where 14,000 children were sent to the United States without their parents to escape the Castro regime. This novel is based on his experience. This is a fascinating book.
- Becoming Naomi Leon by Pam Munoz Ryan Grades 4-7.
Naomi Soledad Leon is 11 and has been brought up by her grandmother. Life is not perfect, but she and her younger brother, who is slightly deformed, are doing fairly well in a trailer park in California. Then her alcoholic mother, who has been gone for 7 years returns with a no good boyfriend. Gran gets into the car and takes the two children on a trip to Oaxaca, Mexico in search her father who is a fine man. This way her daughter, will not have legal custody of the children. This gives an amazing look into life in Mexico.
- Enchanted Air: Two Cultures/ Two Wings by Margarita Engle. Grades 5-8
This book of memoris is told through poems. Ms. Engle lived in Los Angeles and spent summers with her mother in Cuba. She finds herself divided because the two countries she loves are at war. Will her family in Cuba be alright after the Invasion of the Bay of Pigs? Ms. Engle was the first Latina to win a Newbery Honor with her book, Surrender Tree.
- How Tia Lola Came to Visit/ Stay by Julia Alvarez. Grades 3-6.
Miguel Guzman lives with his sister and mom in Vermont after the divorce. In comes a crazy aunt, his mother’s sister, from the country of the Dominican Republic. Miguel is afraid that his friends will meet his nutty aunt. In time, all of the town warm to Tía Lola, as she cooks exotic foods and learns English. The story is full of humor as Tía makes a lot of mistakes in her new language and her visit becomes permanent.
- The Revolution of Eveyln Serrano by Sonia Manzano. Grades 5-8.
Written by the actress who plays Maria on Sesame Street, this is a very special inside view of what life was like in the Puerto Rican Part of New York City during the civil rights movement in 1969. Fascinating!
- Trapped: How the World Rescued 33 miners from 2,000 feet below the Chilean desert by Marc Aronson J 363.11 ARO Grades 4-8.
This is a true account of the miners that were trapped in 2010 in a copper mine in Chile. You’ll be amazed at the diagrams of the mine. There is only one safe place for the men in the miles of the mine. The world didn’t have the technology to save the men. They had to invent it. Oil drillers, astronauts, submarine specialists and experts around the world came together and tried different ways to get the men out. Whose way will work? Or will any of them be able to reach the men in time? A breath taking, true life thriller.
- Under the Same Sky by Cynthis DeFelice Grades 5-8.
Joe Pedersen’s family owns a large farm in New York State. The workers all are from Central America. Joe has never paid attention to the operation of the farm until he wants to earn money for a motorcycle. He learns a lot that summer as he picks strawberries and cares for cabbage along with the migrant workers who tend his farm. He realizes that life for his friends is far more complicated than he imagined. His life too becomes difficult because he wants to help, but he may have to break the law. A great read!
By Lisa Lombard, Reference Department
This is a non-fiction book primarily set in the Dominican Republic. Kurson has written about John Chatterton and John Mattera and and the true story of their search for a legendary pirate ship, the Golden Fleece. This book takes you on an adventure to find the Golden Fleece, where you not only search the waters for the wreckage but learn about the history of pirates during the late 1600’s. You learn about Joseph Bannister, the captain of the Golden Fleece, as well as the hardships that plague hunters looking for a ship with virtually no documentation of where it was supposed to have sunk.
I really enjoyed this book which surprised me because I normally do not read non-fiction books but this story was a page turner. It was full of adventure, mystery, history and pirate stories that move along at a great pace. I even found the background chapters on Chatterton and Mattera to be interesting as they told of each man’s youth and how they came to be underwater treasure hunters/ship hunters. I found myself feeling the same frustrations and joys with Chatterton and Mattera which I greatly enjoyed. To me, that makes any story good or in this case, a great story! I would highly recommend this book if you are looking for an exciting adventure without having to leave the comfort of your home.
By Stacy Parish, Children’s Department
Below is the annotated—and sanitized– version of a conversation that took place in my kitchen, once upon a time. (Verbatim content has been carefully edited for appropriateness on a family-oriented website.)
Child: “But Mooooooooooom, it’s summer. I don’t want to read books in the summer.”
Me (interspersed epithets redacted for decorum’s sake): “Are you kidding me with this? You are aware of what I do for a living, right?”
Child: “Reading is so boring.” (strategic eye roll by child inserted here.)
Me: “Okay, I don’t even know who you are. And don’t roll your eyes at me.”
Child: “OMG. I hate reading.”
Me: “Well, now you’re just being hurtful.”
Hence, my attempt to prevent another parent from hearing those vile sentiments is manifested below in a short-but-sweet list of summer reads for kids. In no particular order:
Pete The Cat’s Groovy Guide To Life by Kimberly and James Dean. Personally, I aspire to be as cool and laid-back as Pete, and to have just a fraction of his unparalleled fashion sense. In this charming new book, Pete makes a personal interpretation of his favorite famous inspirational and feel-good quotes. For instance, Wayne Gretzky said “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take,” and Pete distills that to “Go for it!” Books starring this brilliant blue feline generally range within a 1st-2nd grade reading level but are appropriate and enjoyable for readers of all ages.
10 Little Rubber Ducks by Eric Carle. Duck overboard! Well, ten of them, to be precise, accidentally tossed from a freighter out into the sea by a raging storm. Each one of them floats off on a journey to a different part of the big wide world, making friends with animals along the way. The tenth little duck gets the best ending of all. Carle’s signature cut-paper collage style, combined with a sweet story, makes for a lovely counting adventure. AR level 2.4.
13 Words by Lemony Snicket. Feeling a little triskaidekaphobic? (Yes, it’s a thing. Go look it up. Do I sound like somebody’s mother?) Let this whimsical and striking little adventure help you get over it, just as 13 words such as “haberdashery” and “panache” help the main character, a quirky blue bird, get over his despondency. AR level 3.5.
The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamilo. A precious tale by the Newbery award-winning author of The Tale of Despereaux and Flora and Ulysses. Edward, a remarkable yet arrogant rabbit, teaches us that even the coldest heart can learn to love, to endure loss, and to love again. The story alone soars from DiCamilo’s talent, but the stunning illustrations by Bagram Ibatoulline take this book to another level of kid-lit. AR level 4.4
Spy School by Stuart Gibbs. Precocious 12-year-old Ben Ripley takes a “leave of absence” from his public middle school to attend the Central Intelligence Agency’s super-secret Espionage Academy, which is billed to the general population as an elite science school. This fast-paced, charming book is the first in a series, which continues with Spy Camp and Evil Spy School. AR level 5.3.
Ninja Librarians: The Accidental Keyhand by Jen Swann Downey. When siblings Dorrie and Marcus chase Moe, an ill-tempered mongoose (is that redundant?), into the custodian’s closet in their local public library, they discover something that many of you may already know; to wit, librarians are not a group to be trifled with. This secret cabal of blade-slinging, sword-swinging, karate-chopping, crime-stopping warrior librarians has a mission: protect those whose words get them into trouble, anywhere in the world and at any time in history. Dorrie and Marcus go on a fantastic adventure and make lots of new friends along the way, and the book ends with the door wide open to a sequel. AR level 5.8.
(Opinions, implied profanity, and suggested readings are solely those of the author and should not be considered a reflection on other WCPL employees. The author also does not advocate young patrons running into the janitor’s closet at the library. If your mongoose gets away from you, please ask an adult for assistance.)
By Rebecca Tischler, Reference Department
Mare Barrow’s world is divided by blood—those with common, Red blood serve the Silver- blooded elite, who are gifted with superhuman abilities. Mare is a Red, scraping by as a thief in a poor, rural village, until a twist of fate throws her in front of the Silver court. Before the king, princes, and all the nobles, she discovers she has an ability of her own.
To cover up this impossibility, the king forces her to play the role of a lost Silver and betroths her to one of his own sons. As Mare is drawn further into the Silver world, she risks everything and uses her new position to help the Scarlet Guard—a growing Red rebellion—even as her heart tugs her in an impossible direction. One wrong move can lead to her death, but in the dangerous game she plays, the only certainty is betrayal.
I actually enjoyed this book despite the numerous YA novel cliches that it invokes. Yes, there is an oppressive government, the main character is one of the oppressed and discovers she’s “special”, she becomes part of the revolution, and there is a love triangle. However, this typical story is made more interesting when the oppressive group are armed with superpowers, such as super-strength, super-speed, telepathy and various abilities to manipulate metal, plants, fire, water, animals, ect., which makes it much more difficult for the oppressed to fight back. Unfortunately, the characters are a little predictable and flat, with the main character acting inconsistent and thoughtless, but the revolution and the rebel’s plans make it much more interesting. When battling against a superhuman group, sometimes dark and violent decisions have to be made.
Overall, it feels like a typical YA government oppression book, but it saves itself with a ruthless rebellion and superpowers. These two aspects add an edge that heightens the tension and danger in the book and makes the reader want to discover what happened. My hope is that the rest of the trilogy focuses on darkness of the rebellion instead of the romance or the drama between characters.
By Rebecca Tischler, Reference Department
Melanie is a very special girl. Dr. Caldwell calls her “our little genius.” Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite, but they don’t laugh.
Filled with well-drawn characters and a future that will make you think, this book was engaging. The setting may be an apocalyptic future where small bands of people are gathered in fortified bases to keep out the “hungries,” but the book really isn’t about the action, or the fight like most apocalyptic books. It’s about a group of people trying to survive in a world that’s collapsed. The character’s are the core of the book and are what draw the reader in, although that does mean that the pace can drag a little. There’s Melanie, a strangely intelligent feral child that just wants love and acceptance, Ms. Justineau, Melanie’s teacher whose affection and compassion for her students causes her pain, Sergeant Ed Parks, a good man who is suspicious of the feral children, and Dr. Caldwell, who will do whatever it takes to save the world no matter the consequences.
There were several big twists in the book that didn’t really come as a surprise, such as why Melanie is strapped to a chair for class, but that really didn’t bother me. There was a predictable science based logic, and I really enjoyed that adherence to logic. The world Carey created made sense and felt like this apocalyptic future could be a possibility. However, even though it can be a little predictable, the ending took me by surprise, although in hindsight, I should have expected it.
This was a really intriguing book with a realistically built world, rounded empathetic characters, and an ability to make a person think about hard questions and the future.
By Lance Hickerson, Reference Department
What’s the Big Deal about the New Study on Christianophobia in the U.S.?
Two professors of Sociology just published their rigorous research on whether there is what may be called Christianophobia in America. They define Christianophobia as unreasonable hatred or fear of Christians. Their book: So Many Christians, So Few Lions, is printed by a mainstream academic publisher. This is significant in that the study is coming from the professional academic world versus what otherwise might be written off as incidental musings over isolated occurrences.
Isn’t this a biased study since at least one of the professors is a Christian?
No more than the fact that Yancey is black means he cannot say anything scientifically valid about racism. He has done significant studies on racism, and now, on Christianophobia.
So what did the authors, George Yancey and David Williamson, find?
First, they are finding that it is conservative Christians who are singled out. “Anti-Christian hostility is a phenomenon that conservative Christians have to deal with, but Christians in general usually escape this level of animosity” (p. 33).
Second, the authors observe : “Surprisingly, religious groups in general experience more animosity than racial groups” (p. 33; “As we have already seen in the … data, that animosity toward Christians is more prevalent than animosity toward people of color … “ p. 123, bold mine).
Third, a personal observation is that their work is based on a large national survey which helps toward having a valid research sample versus the common unscientific type polls by news groups we hear every day which tend to work with 1) too small a sample of people to draw larger conclusions, while often 2) self-selecting participants that already lean the way they hope the survey turns out (thus sample bias)!.
Yancey and Williams summarize what they have learned thus far.
An unknown percentage of individuals hate, mistrust, and/or fear conservative Christians to an extensive degree. We know from the information provided by the American National Election Survey [2012; involving 3,067 respondents] that their number is not likely miniscule since nearly a third of the country feels substantial relative hostility toward conservative Christians. The extent of relative hostility directed toward this group is at least as high as that directed at Muslims; thus those concerned about Islamophobia in the United States have as much reason to be concerned about this relative hostility toward conservative Christians—especially since those with this antipathy are more likely to be wealthy, educated, and white, thus to have greater per capita social power than the average American.
Our deeper exploration through qualitative data [open ended questionnaires with 3,577 reponspondents] indicates that at least some with relative hostility toward conservative Christians despise what they see as this group’s intolerance and homophobia. They [those exhibiting anti-Christian hostility] rely on stereotypes every bit as potent as those based on race, ethnicity, sex, or sexual preference. They show a personal mistrust of conservative Christians and consider them evil; as the opposite of respect and tolerance, this can be seen as bigotry. They fear Christians will take over our society and think of them as mindless sheep led by manipulative leaders. This dehumanization leaves some of them open to a societal rules that disparately impact conservative Christians. (p. 109).
Who is it that holds this animosity toward conservative Christians?
Basically, the hostility is rooted in an elite subculture involving those who may be generally described as: highly educated, white, wealthy, not highly religious, and identified as progressives (defined as an understanding of morality that minimizes traditional religious justifications and is determined by what the individual decides is best for him- or herself).
According to this elite subgroup, what is wrong with Christians?
Co-author George Yancey answered this question in an interview on the book with the Christian Post. He responds:
“In the minds of many of the respondents Christians are ignorant, intolerant and stupid individuals who are unable to think for themselves. The general image they have of Christians is that they are a backward, non-critical thinking, child-like people who do not like science and want to interfere with the lives of everyone else.
But even worse, they see ordinary Christians as having been manipulated by evil Christian leaders and will vote in whatever way those leaders want. They believe that those leaders are trying to set up a theocracy to force everybody to accept their Christian beliefs. So, for some with Christianophobia, this is a struggle for our society and our ability to move toward a progressive society. Christians are often seen as the great evil force that blocks our society from achieving this progressive paradise.”
What’s the big deal—how can such a small group be a problem for a Christian majority?
The concern arises from this being an elite small group with great formative power in our society due to wealth, along with influential positions in education, government, law courts, entertainment, journalism and media. The group forms an influential, and sometimes censoring, core of the “talking class” in our world. Yancey explains: “If you want to get elected to political office, then atheists are at a disadvantage since more people do not like them. But if you want to get a higher education, then you will run into a lot more people with power who hate Christians than who hate atheists.”
How are the findings on Christianophobia helpful?
Firstly, the study validates the experience of Christians who encounter anti-religious bigotry. There is a tendency, even among Christians, to minimize reports of those who experience anti-Christian hostility. I recall one Christian commenting on the movie God’s Not Dead, which follows the experience of a college freshman who encounters blatant and dogmatic attacks on his faith from his Philosophy professor. Her comment was, “The premise is so lame. That does not happen.” Unfortunately, this Christian is socially desensitized to the plight of her fellow believers. It really does happen, and is not merely accidental to academic life. It even happened to the present writer who was shocked speechless by one Professor of Anthropology’s hostile off the wall rant directed his way. Fortunately, a Jewish Anthropology graduate teaching assistant took up for me and redeemed the day. The study by Yancey and Williamson puts all this in reliable perspective. There is measurable anti-Christian hostility in our society.
Secondly, it is a matter of being truthful about what is going on in our time and place. The study documents “that some level of Christianophobia is present among certain powerful subcultures in our society. This helps us understand some actions in our society.”
Thirdly, in Yancey’s words: “People do not like to admit that they are biased or bigoted but often those disaffinities come out in other ways. Because of the attention rightly paid to bigotry . . . there is social pressure on those who take actions that may harm those groups to engage in introspection to make sure they are not being unfair.
I have seen a dearth of such introspection by those who make decisions that may harm Christians. I hope that this work will encourage such critical thinking among those with Christianophobia and perhaps help some to confront a bigotry they did not realize they possessed.”
Give me a good illustration of what’s going on in America!
The last question for Yancey during his Christian Post interview offers a helpful illustration. (I used editorial license to convert one phrase from crass to non-offensive.)
CP: Sociologist Peter Berger famously remarked that if Sweden is the most secular country and India is the most religious country, America has become a nation of Indians ruled by Swedes. [Berger] added how many of the problems of America have to do with the fact that the Indians have become increasingly angry at the Swedes. In some ways, your book seems to present a correlate to that: the Swedes have become increasingly angry at the Indians. Do you agree?
Yancey: I think that is a great way to think about it. I would put it this way: Because of their numbers the Indians historically had a lot of political and cultural power in our society. They may not be in the elite political positions but the Swedes in those positions could not afford to ignore what they wanted. The Swedes for years documented the excesses and biases of the Indians. Over time, they begin to look down on the Indians. But they also gained educational and cultural power and begin to ignore the concerns of the Indians. But the Swedes never considered that many of the social processes that produce bigotries in the Indians also can produce bigotries in themselves. They became quite adept at seeing social dysfunctions in the Indians but not in themselves. While part of the reason for this book is to provide some insight to protect the Indians, I also see it useful for helping the Swedes engage in the introspection they need to deal with their own failings and to live by their own stated values.
For more information, besides reading their book, there is a three-part interview with George Yancey starting here:
** As always, the opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and in no way reflect the philosophies or principles of Williamson County Public Library, its staff members, their parents, children, friends, or housepets.
By Erin Holt, Teen Department
June is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer month and in recognition, we have compiled a list of TEEN reads that have characters and themes around LGBTQ. Check our shelves and chat with our Librarians for more info!
Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green & David Levithan
Two teens with the same name have paths that cross, bringing them together in unexpected ways.
Hold Me Closer: The Tiny Cooper Story by John Green & David Levithan
Tiny Cooper is BACK … and in a musical! This sequel to Will Grayson, Will Grayson is one that you definitely don’t want to miss!
See You At Harrys by Jo Knowles
Fern and her brother Holden (who is gay but hasn’t told anyone yet) world is changed when a tragic accident tears their family apart.
None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio
What it means to be not a boy, not a girl, but both.
I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson
Twins Jude and Noah each tell their side of the story…without realized that the other half to their stories is missing.
George by Alex Gino
What happens when a boy wants to play a girl in a school play. This book tackles the issue of transgender in today’s society.
For other books dealing with LGBTQ issues, check the YALSA website. Learn about nationally observed months implemented by Presidential Proclamation, Executive Orders and Public Law at the Library of Congress.
** As always, the opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and in no way reflect the philosophies or principles of Williamson County Public Library, its staff members, their parents, children, friends, or housepets.
By Stacy Parish, Children’s Department
Greetings, Darling Readers. Take a moment, please and thank you, and re-read that title, and take note that it doesn’t say “Best Literary Dads,” “Most Lovable Literary Dads,” or even “Exemplary Human Beings of the Male Persuasion Who Happen To Have Fathered A Child.” To further belabor the point—some of the entrants on this list (see the author’s disclaimer at the end of this article) will never be considered for the Father Of The Year Award and as such, you’d be better served to find another source of reference for good parenting skills. In no particular order:
The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman.
Rick tops my personal list of memorable literary dads for a couple of reasons. Not only is he doing the single-dad thing, but he’s doing it in a post-apocalyptic world while also being the de facto leader of a ragged group of survivors. Seriously, you think hauling your kid to guitar practice once a week is a big deal? Try doing it while being pursued by flesh-eating zombies.
“The Man/ The Father”
The Road by Cormac McCarthy.
Coming in at number two on my list is another post-apocalyptic dad. The Man (also called The Father), like Rick Grimes, is doing everything he can to keep his son alive in the barren wasteland that America has become. Stark and haunting, this story of the bond between The Father and The Boy is one that will resonate with the reader for a long time to come.
The Harry Potter Series by J. K. Rowling.
Arthur may come across to some readers as a more laid-back dad, content to let his wife Molly take the lead on child-rearing (and in particular, disciplinary) matters in the wild and wonderful Weasley household, but he is undeniably a kind and loving dad to his own red-haired brood of witches and wizards as well as a fine father figure to young Harry Potter.
The Shining by Stephen King.
Many of you may be more familiar with Jack Nicholson’s brilliant and beautifully unhinged performance in Stanley Kubrick’s film adaptation of Stephen King’s novel, but the literary Jack was certainly a dad who leaves a lasting impression. Sure, he had a whole herd of demons in his head to deal with, as well as the ones inhabiting the Overlook Hotel, and he tried to kill his son Danny at their urging, but what else are you going to do when you’re a recovering alcoholic who has taken a job as a caretaker of a haunted, snowbound hotel?
Horton the Elephant
Horton Hatches The Egg by Dr. Seuss.
When the flighty (you should pardon the pun) Mayzie the bird lays an egg but can’t be bothered to go the parental distance to seeing it hatched and takes off on an extended vacation to Palm Beach, Horton takes on the role of mother and father to the egg. Even after Horton is captured and put in a traveling circus, he still won’t abandon his charge. “I meant what I said, and I said what I meant . . . An elephant’s faithful—one hundred percent!” Horton’s parental love and patience is rewarded a thousandfold when his egg hatches.
Don Vito Corleone
The Godfather by Mario Puzo.
The patriarch of the Corleone clan may have had a few moral shortcomings, but as evidenced by his quote “A man who doesn’t spend time with his family can never be a real man,” he most certainly loved his children. Let’s just overlook the fact that his love imperiled his children and led to the deaths of two of them. Hey, nobody ever said life in a mafia family was a walk in the park.
(OK, remember that part in the intro when I said this list was about memorable fathers, not good ones?) Humbert Humbert is not merely a bad stepfather to Dolores; he is thoroughly, unadulteratedly evil. His vile obsession with the 12-year-old child he privately nicknamed Lolita destroys her childhood and ultimately, her life.
King Lear by William Shakespeare.
Old King Lear was a silly old dear. In a completely misguided plan to determine which of his daughters loved him best, and would therefore inherit his kingdom, he is driven to madness. (Note to self: I wonder if his daughters were teenagers.)
The Mosquito Coast by Paul Theroux.
Fourteen-year-old Charlie Fox’s dad Allie is a brilliant yet slightly unhinged inventor who has had just about enough of American consumerism. He moves his family from suburban Massachusetts to the eponymous Mosquito Coast in Honduras. (Spoiler alert!) Allie is killed by a religious zealot named Spellgood, but before his untimely death, he invents this really cool ice-making machine.
Colonel Wilbur “Bull” Meecham
The Great Santini by Pat Conroy.
Inspired by Conroy’s own experiences growing up in a military family, this powerful and immensely readable novel is told from the viewpoint of Bull’s son Ben and chronicles the complicated relationship between them. The lengths to which Ben goes to earn the love and acceptance of his father, “A warrior without a war,” is at times heart-wrenching, but it is clear that Bull Meecham loves his family with the same fierce passion that he loves his country and the United States Marine Corps.
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
Yes, I saved the best for last. Atticus Finch is the absolute acme of parenthood—he is kind, dignified, brave, and loyal. He holds tight to his principles, even when it comes at a tremendous cost. It is nearly impossible not to be inspired by Atticus’ quiet yet steely strength.
So, Dearest Readers, if you’ve made it this far, bless your heart, and thank you from the bottom of mine. Regardless of your location or your circumstances, may you all have a blessed Father’s Day. Happy reading—
(***Same as it ever was—the opinions and viewpoints expressed here are solely those of the author and are in no way reflective of Williamson County Public Library, its staff members, or their fathers.)
By Stacy Parish, Children’s Department
Let us now praise . . . Dear Old Dad! Yes, that fixer of bicycle chains and broken hearts. That guy, who ferried you and your giggly girlfriends to the skating rink or the mall, and reluctantly agreed to let you out of the car a little ways down the sidewalk so that you wouldn’t be seen climbing out of a very uncool Dadmobile. The fellow who coached your youth soccer team and took everyone out for ice cream afterward, rain or shine, win or lose. The man who escorted you down the aisle and tried valiantly not to let you or anyone else see the tears in his eyes. The one who will always be there for you, and for his grandchildren.
Here, in no particular order, are nine great books that celebrate Dad.
Tad And Dad by David Ezra Stein. Tad the Tadpole just loves spending every minute with his super cool awesome dad, including sharing his lily pad for sleeping. But when Tad begins to grow bigger, the lily pad starts to become a bit crowded. What to do? Caldecott Honor winner David Ezra Stein’s sweet story of familial love will amuse and delight, and may look a little bit like your own life.
Kevin And His Dad by Irene Smalls. This Parents’ Choice Gold Award Winner chronicles a day Kevin and his father spend tidying the house, doing some repairs, playing ball, seeing a movie, having milkshakes, and just sharing each other’s company. It is a graceful and powerful celebration of the bond that exists between boys and their dads.
Dad and Pop: An Ode To Fathers and Stepfathers by Kelly Bennett. The protagonist of this story is a very lucky girl indeed. She has a father and a stepfather who are very different in many ways, but they share one trait without question: they both love her very much.
Horton Hatches The Egg by Dr. Seuss. Horton the Elephant sat and sat on the egg Mayzie the Bird laid (and abandoned) because “I meant what I said and I said what I meant . . . An elephant’s faithful one hundred percent!” Horton’s patience and love is rewarded a thousandfold by the creature that hatches out of the egg that he protected and nurtured. Pure magic!
How To Cheer Up Dad by Fred Koehler. Little Jumbo’s dad is having a bad day, and LJ has no idea why (hint: it’s LJ’s own mischief-making that is causing Dad’s consternation.) Fortunately he does know how to cheer Dad right up. Fred Koehler’s whimsical debut is a lovely tribute to fathers everywhere, and to their own high-octane Little Jumbos.
Dad Runs Away With The Circus by Etgar Keret. In this wildly imaginative picture book, Audrey and Zach’s father joins the circus, travels the world, and becomes a star. Dad’s message to Audrey and Zach: you’re never too old to follow your dreams. This is the debut children’s book by acclaimed Israeli writer Keret.
Rock On, Mom & Dad! (A Pete The Cat book) by James Dean. Pete’s mom and dad are total rock stars, as they do so much for him. But how can he show them how much he appreciates and loves them? His rockin’ surprise is a result of Pete discovering that it’s not what you do, but how you do it, that matters–as long as it’s from the heart.
My Dad The Magnificent by Kristy Parker. Seems like no matter how cool your dad is, there’s always someone whose dad is just a little bit cooler. When Buddy’s new friend Alex brags about his firefighter dad, Buddy can’t resist being drawn into the game of one-upsmanship and invents a new and increasingly exotic persona for his dad each day for a week. At the end of the story, Buddy realizes that his plain old dad is pretty magnificent, even if he wears a business suit instead of bunker pants.
The Day I Swapped My Dad For Two Goldfish by Neil Gaiman. More graphic short story than traditional children’s picture book, this witty and whimsical book by the author of Coraline explores what can happen when you want something so badly that you’re willing to trade your own father for it . . . and then what happens when Mom gets home and learns what you’ve done.
Thanks for reading. Happy Father’s Day to one and all—
(As always, the opinions expressed here are the author’s alone and in no way reflect upon the beliefs and principles of Williamson County Public Library, its employees, or their fathers.)