Knock Knock: My Dad's Dream for Meby Daniel Beaty
But what happens when, one day, that "knock knock" doesn't come? This powerful and inspiring book shows the love that an absent parent can/i>/i>/i>/i>/i>/i>/i>
Every morning, I play a game with my father.He goes knock knock on my doorand I pretend to be asleeptill he gets right next to the bed.And my papa, he tells me, "I love you."
But what happens when, one day, that "knock knock" doesn't come? This powerful and inspiring book shows the love that an absent parent can leave behind, and the strength that children find in themselves as they grow up and follow their dreams.
Beaty’s spoken-word performance about a childhood lived in the shadow of incarceration can be seen online, and its impact is powerful. This print version, meant for a younger audience, is gentler but equally affecting. Collier’s (Fifty Cents and a Dream) watercolor collages capture the sadness of a thoughtful African-American boy whose father disappears and whose mother will not say where he has gone. The “knock knock” of the title stands for the game played by the boy and his father in happier times: “He goes knock knock on my door, and I pretend to be asleep till he gets right next to the bed.” But when his father disappears, “the knock never comes.” The boy writes to his father, but lets the letter sit instead of sending it; eventually, his father writes to him, turning “knock knock” into a symbol of possibility: “Knock knock down the doors that I could not.” By sharing his experience, explained in an afterword, Beaty lends his voice to children struggling with the absence of a parent and the grief that goes with it. Ages 3–6. Illustrator’s agent: Marcia Wernick, Wernick & Pratt. (Dec.)
ALSC Notable Children's Book
Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards Picture Book Honor
Notable Children's Book in the English Language Arts
Children's Book Committee at Bank Street College Best Books of the Year
A Huffington Post Best Picture Book of the Year"
Bryan Collier's richly textured illustrations and the lyricism of Beaty's text-with its echoes of spoken-word poetry-make this story of bereavement also a story of possibility and beauty."The New York Times Sunday Book Review"
Challenging but ultimately uplifting, Knock Knock is a thoughtful meditation on grappling with the sometimes uneasy legacy passed down to us by our parents."The Huffington Post
*"By sharing his experience, explained in an afterword, Beaty lends his voice to children struggling with the absence of a parent and the grief that goes with it."Publishers Weekly (starred review)"
The text, powerful and spare, is well supported by Collier's watercolor and collage art...there is a lot going on in the mind of any child who has been denied a parent, for whatever reason. In this book they will find comfort and inspiration."The Horn Book"
A poignant [and] heart-wrenching tale of love, loss, and hope."School Library Journal"
The desire for guidance encountering life's experiences is told from a small child's point of view with candor, as well as hope...."Booklist"
The intimate nature of the text and the detailed visual environment are more suited for close sharing than a storytime, but the book's versatility suggests that it will see extended use."The Bulletin
K-Gr 3—Beaty tells a poignant, heart-wrenching tale of love, loss, and hope. A boy narrates how every morning he and his father play the Knock Knock game. He feigns sleep while his father raps on the door until the boy jumps into his dad's arms for a hug and an "I love you." One day, there is no knock. Left with his mother, the child deeply misses his papa and writes to him for advice, receiving a moving letter in return. Collier's watercolor and collage illustrations enhance the nuanced sentiment of the text. Following the protagonist's journey from a grief-stricken child to an accomplished strong adult, the lifelike images intermingle urban and domestic backgrounds with the symbolic innerscape of the narrator. As the boy writes the letter and tosses paper airplanes out the window, he glides out on a life-size paper plane expressing his plea, "Papa, come home, 'cause there are things I don't know, and when I get older I thought you could teach me." Author's and illustrator's notes at the end of the book elaborate on the personal meaning of this eloquent story that speaks especially to children who are growing up in single-parent homes.—Yelena Alekseyeva-Popova, formerly at Chappaqua Library, NY
A heartfelt effort to transform Beaty's celebrated monologue into a picture book undermines the source material's power, despite the contributions of Collier's stunning collage-and-watercolor artwork. A father and son play "KNOCK KNOCK" every morning, Papa knocking on the door to awaken him and the boy jumping into his arms. Both picture book and monologue open with this recollection and then reflect on the boy's profound loss when his beloved father is suddenly gone; but while the latter text explains that this is due to the father's incarceration, in picture-book form, his absence is unexplained until an author's note in the backmatter. Not only is this potentially confusing and alarming, it also robs the text of one of its most powerful elements: when the boy visits his father in prison and must "KNOCK KNOCK" on the glass between them. In the monologue, Beaty says that he had to learn to father himself and give himself the words his father didn't give to him. In this adaptation, the boy's mysteriously absent father writes a loving letter filled with fatherly advice, but it omits the monologue's lines about fighting poverty and racism and not allowing a father's choices to define the child. Absent the critical back story, this picture book feels incomplete. A valiant effort that falls short of its source's fearless honesty and passion. (Picture book. 4-8)
- Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
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- Age Range:
- 3 - 6 Years
Meet the Author
Daniel Beaty is an award-winning writer, performer, educator, and empowerment expert. His works have been shared throughout the United States, Europe, and Africa in the area's of children's and adult literature, music, theater, film, and television. He has performed at The White House and has graced the stage of The Kennedy Center, as well as HBO and BET. His website is danielbeaty.com.
Bryan Collier has illustrated more than twenty-five picture books, including the award-winning Dave the Potter and Fifty Cents and a Dream, and has received numerous awards, including three Caldecott Honors and four Coretta Scott King Awards. He lives with his wife and children in Marlboro, New York. His website is bryancollier.com.
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Reviewed by Karen Pirnot for Readers' Favorite Knock Knock addresses a tough issue in a gentle manner. Author Daniel Beaty presents a young child who is deeply loved by his father and in return, the father is an important role model for the child. One day, the father simply disappears from the child's life and the boy wonders if he will ever see his father again. Finally, he writes a letter and in time, he receives a letter back saying the father will no longer be in his son's life. The father assures the son that despite being an absent father, he will continue to love the boy and that the boy should honor the love he has for his father by growing to be a strong and responsible man. The book is beautifully illustrated by Bryan Collier and it is easily apparent that much of the success of Knock Knock is the way the illustrations enhance the written word. This is a powerful book about absent fathers. Whether a child has lost a father to divorce, death, or incarceration, the book will surely be instrumental in commencing the healing process. The author's own father was absent due to incarceration and it is readily apparent that the pain of the separation was effectively transferred to the pages of the book. It is a book which might best be read by the child and his/her caretaker as questions will surely arise. As separation from a parent is one of the most difficult and painful events in childhood, parents and affected children will surely benefit from beginning the healing process by taking in the messages of this book.
Knock Knock: My Dad's Dream for Me (Hardcover) by Daniel Beaty I did not expect the hard knock life this book talked about. I young boy loses his father. He has to change his way of life, from morning wake ups, to rituals never continued. The young boy must adapt to the change but the reader does not know until they read the story summary at the end. The boy’s father was incarcerated, which left the kindergarten class asking questions of what happened. But it was not the point of the story that the father committed a crime but that he left a hole in his child's life by his choices, and the child would have to teach himself all that his father should and would have taught.
When his father doesn’t show up for their morning ritual, this young boy lists all the things he misses his Papa doing with him from making his favorite scrambled eggs to telling him that he loves him. He then lists the things his Papa will not be able to help him with when he gets older from fixing a car to shaving. He writes his Papa a letter telling him to come home, and after months of waiting he gets a return letter. His Papa writing down his words of wisdom as he himself cannot tell the boy in person. These words come from the heart touching on everyday subjects and reaching to intellectual advice, a father’s voice reaching out. The author’s own father was incarcerated so the author writes from the heart; you can feel in the writing the confusion and pain as the child comes to grip with his new reality. Some of the illustrations are remarkable and others were very interesting. I had to stop and analyze them to see everything that was occurring on the page. The depth of the illustrations, layers built on top of each other and images set upon one another, striking and precise. The illustrator used watercolors and collage to deliver this emotional book.