Friday, August 12, 2011


By Stephen Cook

(Walker & Company, 2006)

Day Out with Daddy plays on the old-fashioned stereotype of fathers being clueless around the house (and beyond) and contravening every well-intentioned routine mothers put into place as the responsible parent. Are there still Homer Simpson dads out there? Sure, but parental roles and responsibilities are more blurred than they were when I was growing up. Regardless, I doubt author/illustrator Stephen Cook wants this book to be anything more than an amusing read. That’s just what young readers will see it for so I am going to chuck my thinking cap on a hat rack for now.

What is readily apparent after the first few pages is that Stephen Cook the artist loves to make the pages pop with bright colors. There is no white space as the images flood each page. The faces of humans and animals are simply drawn in comic book style, but the backgrounds contain significant detail, especially a spread depicting Daddy multitasking while attempting to cook dinner. The illustrations are the highlight of the book.

As the title makes clear, Daddy is in charge for the entire day as Mommy heads out of down. (At first, I thought she had a briefcase in hand, off for a business trip, but on closer viewing she seems to be holding a suitcase. I shall stick to my original impression of mom as a working woman and put that cap of mine further out of reach. Let it blow out an open window.)

After the young boy eagerly awakens Daddy, he helps Daddy make his bed. The corresponding picture shows father and son gleefully bouncing on the makeshift trampoline. Breakfast is sugar-saturated feast and off they go for a day of adventure at a petting zoo and the ballpark before returning home for a dinner that doesn’t go as planned.

This is a simple, playful book; completely innocuous if you treat it all with a sense of humor. Even responsible parenting can take a brief vacation.

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