Archive | June 24, 2017

How to Cheer Up Dad


Written and Illustrated by Fred Koehler

Dial Books for Young Readers, 2014

Little Jumbo’s dad was having a bad day.

Dad makes a few mistakes throughout the day (in Little Jumbo’s opinion), including putting raisins in his oatmeal, suggesting a bath and forgetting that Little Jumbo was not a fan of his brown overalls. But when Little Jumbo tries to put his dad in time-out, he winds up being put there himself. While in time-out, he thinks about ways to cheer up his dad, who seems a little grumpy. He starts with a hug, and then they have a catch. Little Jumbo shares an ice cream cone with dad and then they go fishing. They end the day by reading dad’s favorite story and snuggling before Dad falls asleep in Little Jumbo’s bed. Little Jumbo starts wondering how much cheering up his dad will need tomorrow.

Ice cream

I hope Little Jumbo paid for that ice cream.

Author/illustrator Fred Koehler makes his picture book debut in this funny story that is loaded with subtext. Even young readers should pick up on the fact that Dad’s ‘bad day’ is all due to Little Jumbo, who is a rambunctious little guy. The story is told from Little Jumbo’s viewpoint so he doesn’t take any responsibility for his dad’s bad mood, but he does at least take the initiative to make him feel better and the love between these two is very clear. The comic punch at the end is that he is already starting on mischief for the next day, so poor Dad appears to be in for another rough day. The illustrations, in digital media, pencil, pen and ‘lotsa love’ are extra cute and you wind up loving both of these characters.

And what did we learn?  What I take away from this book is that cheering the ones you love up is great, but not annoying them in the first place is even better.