Dad Bakes

Norton. Oct. 2021. 48p. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781324015413.
Gr 2-4–The plot of this thoughtful book is summed up by its brilliantly succinct title, but there is much more beneath the surface! Dad, tattooed and tired, works as a baker early every morning. He returns home for a nap, before spending the day with his young daughter. Together, they knead dough and spend time reading and playing while it rises. Yamasaki’s characters are brimming with life and movement that is set against bright backgrounds. Comic-style panels are occasionally employed to depict the passage of time. The straightforward text of simple sentences is often smartly placed within open areas of the artwork. Yamasaki, a muralist by trade, incorporates sound effects into her beautiful illustrations. When characters hum or yawn, ribbons of the effect emanate from them, as if they are releasing steam. Dad and his daughter present as part of the AAPI community. In the book’s back matter is a guide to nonprofit organizations who help families rebuild after a parent has been incarcerated. While it could be inferred that Dad was formerly incarcerated, that fact is never explicitly mentioned in the text. Instead, the book stands as a affirmation of a man’s love as a father, his work as a baker, and his humanity.
VERDICT This deeply empathetic title invites conversation and participation from so many angles; it is a must for all collections.

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