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Saturday, May 23, 2020

Weekend Dad, written by Naseem Hrab and illustrated by Frank Viva. Groudwood Books, 2020. $18.95 ages 4 and up

"And I tell my dad all about
my week. I tell him about the
dragon catcher I invented. I
tell him about the boy in grade
six who tripped me at recess.
And I tell him about the sour
candy that Marlo dared me to
try. (It wasn't that sour.)

The bus ride feels like three
seconds, but according to
Wendell it lasts forty-eight ... "

When parents separate, the way of life their children have known is dramatically altered. In this very meaningful picture book, the child narrator allows readers a glimpse into the life he now leads. His narration is poignant and honest. His opening line is frank.

"On Monday morning, my
dad moved out of our house
and into an apartment."

Dad assures he won't be far away. The boy is bombarded with feelings and memories throughout the week. These small personal moments are testament to their life together prior to his father's leaving. Soon, it's Friday and Dad is on the doorstep. Mom provides everything needed for the visit, and a gentle kiss and hug goodbye. Wendell, his favorite stuffie, goes too.

The bus ride to his father's apartment is filled with amiable chatter. Arrival at his second home is fine because Dad is there; it bears no resemblance to his other home because Mom is not. This first weekend is strange. Fear, apprehension, and being in a brand-new place is disconcerting. On Saturday morning, the two begin making their own new personal memories. They do the same on Sunday because that's what they always do! These small moments are touching, and very effective.

There are no dramatic emotional displays. Frank Viva's hand inked and digitally colored images provide exactly the right touch for this quiet, hopeful story. In his deft hands, readers are able to fully understand what his happening as the young child navigates a new reality. While being with his dad, he wonders about his mom. He decides to leave Wendell to keep Dad company. Dad sends him home with a letter filled with love and hope. will hear your dad's heart beat, and with each beat, you will hear the words: "You are loved."

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