Tuesday, November 10, 2015
Dad's First Day, written and illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka. Bloomsbury, Penguin. 2015. $18.99 ages 4 and up
Oliver's dad didn't feel good.
My tummy hurts.
It's okay, Daddy, you're
just a little nervous.
Come on, let's go -
we don't want to
be late for the first day ... "
I want to begin by apologizing for the lateness of this post. It should have been done when school was starting. Maybe you can put it on your list for next year. I think it merits your attention for its humor and the way the author turns a child's typical anxiety about starting school on its ear.
Oliver and his dad have spent the summer months doing everything together. With games of baseball, puppet shows, singing and reading on their daily agenda, it was a very happy time. Now, it's time to return to school and the two prepare lunch, fill a backpack and declare themselves ready!
Morning arrives and Oliver is a bundle of happy energy, keen to get on his way. Dad's tummy hurts. Oliver is reassuring, and eager. His dad is more focused on those things that should get done before they head out the door ... finish a puzzle, a game of hide-and-seek or two or three, a long slow drive. Reaching their destination has Oliver out of the car and into the classroom lickety-split! Dad not so much. In fact, he can't bear to say goodbye and must be removed from the classroom by an understanding teacher.
His morning is spent with chores, and worry. He will not be happy until he ensures that Oliver is fine. Once back at school he realizes that Oliver is ready. Now, he can relax and be ready as well.
Terrific gouache illustrations allow readers to see the angst felt by Dad and the joyful anticipation felt by his son. Plenty of white space keeps the focus on the two as they navigate their first day.