Sunday, June 19, 2005

Happy Father's Day!

Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there--real and fictional!

I am lucky enough to have a great father and a husband who is a great father to our kids. Parents are often absent in kid's books, particularly in Young Adult and Middle Grade fiction, but there are some great dads in picture books. I really like the bear father in Can't You Sleep, Little Bear? by Martin Waddell. He's patient, supportive, and always there. Barbara Firth's illustrations are beautiful and kind. I especially love when father bear takes baby bear outside to see the light of the stars.

I also adore the cute, patient father in Eve Bunting's No Nap (ill. Susan Meddaugh). He tries so diligently to get his daughter to take a nap (a walk, a dance, exercises, books) and, in the end, falls asleep himself.

The dream father in The Island Light (Voyage to the Bunny Planet) is strong, lives in a lighthouse, yet makes pancakes, plays cards, and puts his child to bed. He is the idealized father.

Speaking of idealized fathers, I'm having a difficult time thinking of fathers in MG fiction who are not idealized, but rather real, positive men. (If any of you out there remember some, drop me a line!)

The fathers in classics like Little House on the Prairie or The Little Princess seem like wonderful fathers when you are a child. The child's voice is so strong in these books that a child reader sees that father as he is presented by their narrators. When you read these books as adults you see that these fathers were both the "get-rich quick" types who moved around constantly looking for a better gig--often putting their families at risk in the process.