scrounge: /skrounj/ informal verb: to actively seek [books] from any available source
Since Father's Day is coming up, I thought it would be nice to collect some favorite picture books of ours that prominently feature father characters. Here are some of the best (in no particular order):
1. Winner of the Caldecott Medal in 1988, Jane Yolen's Owl Moon is the winter story of a father and daughter out for a quiet nighttime walk through the woods to see if they can see an owl. They're hoping for one as they give out the owl call, but as the girl has been told, "sometimes there's an owl and sometimes there isn't." Even though the father and daughter don't share many words, their shared experience is a picture of the many different forms that love can come in.
2. Speaking of fathers, daughters, and calling for birds, Crow Call, written by Lois Lowry (of The Giver series fame), also tells the story of a father and daughter who go for a walk in the woods looking for birds (though in this case they're hunting). Based on Lowry's own childhood, this book depicts a girl named Liz reconnecting with her father after his long absence in World War II. With lovely, realistic images by Bagram Ibatoulline, this story touches on several different themes, and ends with the hope that even a lapsed relationship can have a chance to begin again. It also makes a great autumn story.
3. I really like the artwork in Knuffle Bunny by Mo Willems. It consists of black-and-white photographs of urban locations, with cartoonish characters drawn over them. Trixie is a little girl who goes to the laundromat with her father, and inadvertently leaves her cherished Knuffle bunny there. She realizes this during the walk home, but since she can't talk, she has to find other toddler-level ways to attempt to communicate this fact to her father. Parents will probably all be quite familiar with this kind of toddler behavior, as well as the hero daddy who saves the day by simply recovering a beloved toy.
4. One thing I like about Guess How Much I Love You is that it's the only book in this list that's specifically a father/son story. And I also really like that it's just about how much they each love each other. Both Big and Little Nutbrown Hare use a variety of physical activities and distances to try to demonstrate the extent of their love -- and I think, in the end, the consensus must be that love is simply too big to measure.
5. While the text of Mister Seahorse is fairly repetitive, Eric Carle's colorful illustrations are magnificent as always (I love the hippie-looking seahorses), and the book also includes some partially transparent pages with fish hiding behind them, which is fun for kids. I also like this book because it depicts several different species of fish in which it is the male that cares for the eggs (and sometimes even after they hatch), rather than the female. In a world where parent/child animal stories are often dominated by mothers, it is nice to see this exception, especially since it's based in fact!
Bonus: in some ways Ask Me is very opposite of Owl Moon in that the father and daughter do not have to be quiet -- in fact, the daughter is quite the chatterbox. The whole text of this story by Bernard Waber contains the back-and-forth musings, questions, and answers between a father and his talkative young daughter, aided by Suzy Lee's expressive and colorful illustrations.