When Cheryl Blues has to write a Father's Day composition entitled ``My Daddy,'' she realizes she has a problem: ``I wanted to ask the teacher what to do if you don't have a daddy.'' Readers are in for some confusion of their own in this circuitous tale, however, as Cheryl reverses herself in the very next paragraph: ``I do have a daddy. He just doesn't live with me.'' The African American girl's household includes her mother, grandmother, aunt and the aunt's baby boy, while the absence of Cheryl's father is never explained (Are her parents divorced or separated? Has the father died?). Mother convinces her daughter that she is surrounded by love, and that ``Your daddy's not being around isn't your fault.'' Smalls (Irene and the Big Fat Nickel) points up the importance of familial love whatever its source. Unfortunately, while her narrative provides several jumping-off points for adult-child dialogue, it is somewhat muddled and ponderous. McGovern's muted, full-page illustrations-primarily character studies-are for the most part comfortingly true-to-life, but the concluding picture, with Daddy's face smiling down from the clouds, adds an unnecessary dose of melodrama. Ages 5-8. (June)
Cheryl, an African American child, confronts her sadness about her absent father when she tries to write a class composition for Father's Day. The art here is a bit stiff, but the story is realistic, and the characters are strongly individualized. Her loving mother reassures Cheryl that her daddy's absence is not her fault. By the time Cheryl reads her composition to the sympathetic teacher, we have seen that, in fact, people are different, families are different, and love is what makes a family. The best way to get across the message of acceptance is to show a variety of families in all kinds of stories, but for those who also want something more direct, this is an honest, sensitive treatment.