Dad by My Side

Book review by
Jan Carr, Common Sense Media
Dad by My Side Book Poster Image
Charming book celebrates daughter-dad relationship.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Many tasks from daily life pictured -- cooking, sewing, playing chess. Dad and girl frequently shown reading books and newspapers.

Positive Messages

Dads can be caring and loving. The dad-daughter relationship can be a close one. Dads can participate in childcare in ways that aren't gender-stereotyped. Their lives are sweetly and closely entwined.

Positive Role Models & Representations

This dad's a gem, caring for his daughter in all kinds of sweet ways -- cooking, sewing, comforting her when they bury a pet, cuddling, telling and reading stories, combing and braiding her hair. The girl loves her dad and "helps" him, too, for instance decorating the cast on his leg, and teaching him to make shadow puppets.

Violence & Scariness
Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Dad by My Side is by Soosh, a European artist who gained attention when she posted a series of illustrations of a dad and daughter on Instagram. This book grew out of those popular posts, and has their guaranteed appeal. Dad's pictured as a bearded mountain of a man, with shirt often riding above his ample belt line, but he's gentle and attentive, participating in all aspects of daily care, for instance braiding her hair. The two could represent a single-parent family (photos on wall show just the two of them), but their relationship is universally touching and sweet, making this a good father-daughter choice for Father's Day or any day.

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What's the story?

DAD BY MY SIDE begins, "With Dad by my side, there’s nothing we can’t do." We see the girl narrator and her dad making puppet shows, playing with Hula-Hoops (his gets stuck around his bulging belly), cooking together, burying a pet, etc. When the dad works at a desk at home with a towering stack of papers to attend to, he stops to share a tea-party cup of tea, because, "no matter how busy he is, he always makes time." For this loving, bonded pair, "It doesn't matter what we're doing, as long as we’re together." And when Dad lifts her up to peer through a telescope, the girl "can reach the stars."

Is it any good?

This sweet, simple charmer of a book celebrates the touching and tender relationship between a girl and her larger-than-life dad. Dad by My Side features warm watercolor art "on eggshell textured paper" befitting a book illustrating daily domestic pleasures. Since author-illustrator Soosh is primarily an artist, the text is spare, but it's choice. When the two stir side-by-side bowls in the kitchen, the text reads simply, "Eggshells in our omelets don’t bother us at all."

This dad looms large, both physically and emotionally. His engagements with his daughter aren't gender stereotyped -- he sews, puts on puppet shows, cooks, cuddles, comforts, and sings his daughter lullabies via phone when he's on the road. In one picture, we see Dad's silhouette illuminated by candlelight inside a cozy tent, and he looks every bit the gentle giant. In another, captioned, "He protects me from monsters under the bed," the huge dad is shown sleeping upright on the girl's bed, wearing a superman shirt and cape, and holding a push broom to ward off the monsters we see cowering under the bed. What child wouldn't sleep more soundly with such a big, stalwart dad poised to protect them and care for them so sweetly?

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the dad in Dad by My Side. Why do you think the girl likes and trusts her dad? What are the various things they do together?

  • Why do you think the artist made the dad so much bigger than the girl? How big do grown-ups feel to you? Do some grown-ups feel bigger than others, even if they're not actually?

  • What are your favorite things to do with your dad or parent? Are some of them the same as the ones in the book? What other ones can you think of?

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