By Charles Fuge
(Sterling Publishing, 2003)
I remember the recess banter, Marvin’s father being the token in a game of one-upmanship. “My dad almost played hockey in the NHL.”
Someone would have to top that. Usually Joey Biagoni. “Oh yeah? Well my dad knows how to change a tire. On a semi!” No one ever questioned the hierarchy. It was a given that if you dared butt in to brag about your father, the new revelation topped the last on.
Until someone’s truth was too stretched to be accepted. Usually it was Jimmy Hardy. “Oh yeah? Well my dad swam across Lake Ontario and had to have his leg sewn back on after a shark bit it off.”
A fight would ensue—this was about the honor of fathers after all—and Jimmy, Joey and Marvin would spend a week of recesses standing against the wall, glaring at the rest of us who couldn’t put a wicked spin on fatherly feats like burger flipping or take the garbage out.
Boys love to boast about their dads. Writer/Illustrator Charles Fuge would have us believe that bear cubs share this tradition. The story begins with a cub telling his four pals, “My dad is the roughest, toughest, biggest, strongest dad in the whole jungle.” As the group follows the braggart through the jungle, he goes on to compare his father’s strengths with those of elephants, alligators and lions. One by one, the followers flee, the talk too frightful. Suddenly all alone, the little bear is no longer so brave. He is, of course, rescued by a certain someone, allowing the perfect opportunity for a bear hug.
I stumbled upon this little book in a preschool. (Anytime there is a collection of books for kids, I can’t help but browse.) The illustrations are worth a second look to see how the boastful bear loses all his bravado when the other cubs abandon him. The back cover picture of father and son is then even more endearing. My Dad! is a quick read to open up discussion about favorite animals, important connections to family and the needlessness of being boastful. There is nothing greater than a parent’s love. Parents don’t need to become superheroes to be pretty super.