Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Forever Together

Sometimes it's hard to believe twenty-four years have passed since I lost him.  Not a day goes by without something he said, something he did or something he taught me finding its way into my thoughts.  He was well aware of the strength a woman, regardless of her age, needs in this world.  Much of the freedom and independence I enjoy is a result of him. 

Fathers, even when they age and even with their faults, are giants in the eyes of daughters.  Debut author illustrator Soosh presents a uniquely warm and loving relationship in Dad By My Side (Little, Brown and Company, May 8, 2018).  The voice of the child tenderly tells us of the importance of her father.

With Dad by my side,
there's nothing we can't do.

This man knows how to create laughter regardless of how ridiculous he looks.  He loves enough to value the time with his daughter over all other things.  The two of them are champions at venturing into new worlds. 

This dad offers compassion in times of sadness.  This daughter understands she needs to lend support for her dad, too.  Even when they are apart, they are together.

But he doesn't miss a single lullaby,
even when he's far from home.

Each of them is teachers and learners.  When they need to rest, they snuggle.  The stories this dad tells will linger in this daughter's memory for the rest of her life.  He has an uncanny ability to use any space to share time with her.

Like any Dad he dons the persona of superhero when monsters linger in the bedroom at night.  Each of them is helpers for the other.  Together, wherever they are and whatever they are doing, they are two halves of a wonderful whole.

Each lovingly crafted sentence by Soosh speaks to the simple truth of a daughter's affection for her father.  Their relationship is a true partnership based on unconditional love, each for the other.  The everyday activities in their lives are elevated to elegance through her words.  The narrative fashioned by these sentences asks us to appreciate those things we might not otherwise note.  Here is another sentence.

Eggshells in our omelets
don't bother us at all.

Rendered in watercolor on eggshell textured paper the illustrations seen on the opened dust jacket and throughout the title (I am working with an F & G generously supplied by the publisher.) kindle a feeling of compassion certain to envelope and stay with readers long after the story is completed.  Both of the pictures, the dad reading the newspaper with the girl and her doll on his back and the girl comforting her father as they sit on a bench (Their backs are to us.) to the left on the back depict an unbreakable bond.  The size difference between the dad and daughter further demonstrates symbolically and literally how an adult can understand the true nature and heart of their child.

The opening and closing endpapers replicate the walls in their home.  On the first one the daughter has drawn a picture of them with a bird and flowers.  It reads DADDY   ME.  On the final endpapers, author illustrator Soosh speaks to readers about this book.  Beneath the text on the title page the dad is floating on his back, swimming, with his daughter seated on his generous stomach.  Both are wearing red baseball caps with their suits.  She has a pennant with a skull and crossbones on it in her hand. 

Each image, no matter the age of the reader, will reach out and find a spot to rest in their heart.  The delicate details, the soft colors, the body positions and the activities represented are familiar and familial.  There is not a single one not worthy of framing. There is not a single one which will not offer the opportunity for discussion.  By placing most of the visuals on a white background, our eyes are immediately drawn to the daughter and her dad.  Sometimes Soosh will have the text opposite the illustration or above or below it.  The font color throughout is red.

One of my many, many favorite pictures accompanies the sentence about them cooking omelets.  They are working at a long table shown with a thin top, two legs and a single shelf.  On the shelf are a pot, pitcher and a cup.  Other utensils are visible.  You can see a stool on the left side of the table stacked with books.  The daughter used it to climb on top of the table.  She sits there wearing a chef's hat like her dad and holding a wooden spoon inside a bowl.  Three eggs are near to her.  Her dad also has a wooden spoon in a bowl to the right of her.  They are looking at each other.  A broken egg is on the floor.

Without a doubt, Dad By My Side written and illustrated by Soosh is going to be a much-requested favorite.  It honors the relationship between a father and his daughter with unmeasured gratitude and abiding affection.  You can almost hear the sound of the girl's voice as she chats with us about her and her dad.  You are going to want to have this title in your professional and personal collections.

To learn more about Soosh and this book, please visit her website by following the link attached to her name.  Once there you can visit her YouTube channel to view her videos about her work.  Then you will get lost in the wondrous images on her Instagram account. 

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