My Dad Is a Tree

Penguin/Rocky Pond. May 2023. 40p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780593531372.
PreS-Gr 1–While her dad completes some yard work, Madeleine stands still, arms outstretched, pretending to be a tree. “Because a tree gets to stay outside all day long!” Madeleine gets her dad to join in and the neighborhood wildlife clearly finds Dad’s act convincing. He soon finds himself host to a growing menagerie of birds, itchy insects, and even an industrious squirrel. Madeleine repeatedly informs him that trees aren’t bothered by any of these things, but after a kite to the face and pouring rain it is clear Dad’s patience is wearing thin. It is not until the dark of night falls that Dad finally insists to Madeleine that they are not trees. She happily agrees, sharing a smile with her father to celebrate an entire day spent outdoors. This is a humorous story infused with a simple joy and a few wry winks to adults. The text is entirely dialogue, without any word bubbles or dialogue tags. The placement of the words and context clues make it clear which character is speaking. Their banter is enhanced by Agee’s trademark witty illustrations. The charm of this story is how entirely absorbed Dad becomes in his child’s play. Even though he is clearly annoyed by some of the aspects of nature he endures, he never once breaks the conceit of their game. The impact of this child-centered behavior is evident on Madeleine’s constantly smiling face, and will likely lead to smiles on readers’ faces as well. Recommend to fans of the TV show Bluey, who are familiar with fathers losing themselves in their children’s playscapes.
VERDICT A silly celebration of play, imagination, and devoted fathers that would enhance a Father’s Day program or display. Recommended for first purchase.

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