This Is My Daddy!
This Is My Daddy!
Preschoolers are invited to participate in a multiple-choice matching challenge in This Is My Daddy!. On a pair of facing pages, the left-hand page presents readers with a cartoon-like illustration of the young of an insect or animal, with the page’s text asking, “Who is my Daddy?”. On the right-hand facing page, van Hout visually presents four possible answers to the question. Each of the father possibilities shares one or more physical commonalities with the questioner, such as shape, coloration or appendages. For instance, a tiger cub’s choices take the form of four feline heads, all orange with black markings. Adult readers will recognize a lion, leopard, house cat and tiger. Once young readers have made their choice, they can then turn over the page to discover a full-page spread which supplies the visual answer accompanied by the wording, “This is my Daddy!”. The answer pages also show the father and his “child” interacting in some way, and so, for example, the aforementioned tiger cub romps on his father’s back, a beaver kit and its father chew on some branches together while a hippopotamus calf and its father share a run.
The contents of This Is My Daddy! are not the simple matches of the familiar kitten/cat, puppy/dog, calf/cow or piglet/pig variety. The book’s contents, involving eight matches in total, are challenging, perhaps unnecessarily so in terms of how its contents have been sequenced. Instead of beginning with more simple matches, such as the aforementioned tigers, beavers or hippopotami, the first “child” readers encounter is a tadpole. Unless these young readers have been previously exposed to the life cycle of a frog, the chances of their coming up with the correct father is, of course, one in four. Later in the book, youngsters experience a similar circumstance where a worm-like butterfly larva has to be matched with its adult butterfly father. The options for identifying the father of a baby snail are somewhat confusing. While two of the alternatives can be quickly discounted, the other two are problematic. One possibility is shown having a spiral shell similar to that of the young snail, but the adult snail appears to be “in” the shell, rather than having the shell “on” its back. The other option (and evidently the correct one) is an adult snail sans shell. Given that snails hatch with a shell in place and that a snail’s shell is vital to its survival, this illustration is simply incorrect. The remaining child/father matches involve a hedgehog and a human. The human match is deliberately deceptive and offers a fun conclusion to This Is My Daddy!.
The physical book, with its padded cover and round corners, is very child safety-friendly, and the glossy cardstock paper will stand up to the manipulations of fingers just learning to turn pages.
The two pages of end matter consist of promotional material, and this space might have been better used to provide the adult facilitators of the book’s reading with some information about the insects and animals that van Hout has featured, information that adults could have elected to insert into later rereadings of This Is My Daddy!.
This participation book, with its colorful illustrations, belongs in libraries serving the target age group, and it would be a good home purchase as well.
Dave Jenkinson, CM>/i>’s editor, lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba.