Good father-child bonding books are rarer than hens' teeth, but Sidman and Swan pull it off with this charming offering. Joyce Sidman's poems are humorous, meaty, and adventurous in their construction from free-form to haiku, while Susan Swan's cut-paper illustrations swim and hop off the page in busy colors. The back matter of real photos and further information about the nurturing animal daddies covered—such as peregrine falcons, klipspringer antelopes, giant water bugs, and the Nile crocodile—add the touch of reality to the conceit. All that's missing is bedtime and Dad's strong arm around small shoulders. 2000, Millbrook Press, $22.90. Ages 3 to 7. Reviewer: Kathleen Karr
School Library Journal
Gr 1-4-These 11 poems are as diverse in form as the featured creatures. For example, the lines of "If I Were an Egg" are printed in the shape of a large egg on top of the feathered belly-flap of a "Big Daddy" emperor penguin. The California deer mouse is featured in "Mouse Haiku," and "Song of the Night" is a poem in two voices: the male ostrich's and that of a hatching chick. Each selection is superimposed on a double-page illustration (which makes some of the poems difficult to read). The layering of boldly colored, textured, hand-painted paper gives the illustrations a three-dimensional look. The results are dramatic-so much so that the illustrations tend to overwhelm the poems. Full-color photographs of the featured animals and brief notes about the roles of the males (and females) in rearing their young appear at the end. Reading these notes may lead readers back to the poems to enjoy once more how Sidman has presented this information in verse.-Carolyn Angus, The Claremont Graduate School, CA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Poems about a dozen unusual animal dads are exuberantly illustrated with cut-paper collages. Animals include the arctic wolf, poison-arrow frog, emperor penguin, Nile crocodile, and California deer mouse, among others. Animal lovers will enjoy these animal oddities, which seem surprisingly human in their behavior. In an afterword, the author provides a photograph and brief facts about each animal. Poems are presented in a double-page layout, the text sliding, jumping, swimming, and swinging across the page. Some poems, like the first, "If I Were an Egg," take the shape of the subject, while others, like "Song of the Night," are told in two voices-father ostrich speaks in capital letters and hatching baby ostrich replies in small type. In the most successful poems, the author captures the voice of the subject-for example, in "Egg Business," the Giant Water Bug laments, "Life is tough / when you've got eggs. / Sometimes all I see are eggs! / Heavy, tickly, twisty eggs." In the style of Eric Carle, Swan paints papers, cuts them to form the paper collages, and photographs them to enhance shadows. Collages are most successful when they are kept simple, as in "Flying Lessons," where the gray and white falcons are presented against a solid blue sky, accented with a few wispy white clouds. Sometimes the art distracts from the poems-in "Song of the Night," verses placed on the sand and scribble background are difficult to read, and in "Along the Nile," so many animals and plants swim in and out of the page it is hard to follow the text. Still poems have a bouncy appeal, and illustrations invite repeated examination. (Poetry. 6-9)