My Dad is a Clown/Mi papá es un paysaso, by José Carlos Andrés/Illustrated by Natalia Hernández, (Jan. 2017, NubeOcho), $14.95, ISBN: 978-84-944137-6-6
Recommended for ages 4-8
A boy with two dads is proud of what they do for a living, and wants to be like them both when he grows up. Both of the boy’s dads are healers: one dad, Pascual, is a doctor and heals his patients’ bodies; his other dad, whom he refers to as simply “Dad”, is a clown, and heals people’s souls. Pascual and the boy sneak into Dad’s rehearsal one day, where the boy realizes the hard work that goes into being a performer, and decides that he will combine the best of his fathers’ professions when he grows up.
This is a sweet story about a boy who loves and is proud of his parents. We also see a loving relationship between the boy’s parents, who happen to both be men. The cartoony two-color art, primarily black and white with reds added for visual interest and emphasis, is both sweet and dramatic. The family is tender with one another, unafraid to show affection. It’s a gratifying, emotional read, particularly when the family reunites after Dad’s rehearsal and they share happy tears.
This third edition of the story is a bilingual edition, translated into English and includes the Spanish text directly beneath the English text, both featured in a highlighted typewriter font that makes for easy independent and cuddle time reading. It’s good for English and Spanish language learners, and is a sweet story about family love to add to your bilingual collections and your storytime rotation. Put this 0ne on your shelves: there are families out there who need and deserve to have their stories told.
I just came across an article about Meh, a wordless picture book written and illustrated by Deborah Malcolm, as away of helping children understand depression and mental health.
Inspired by Neil Gaiman’s unconventional storytelling, Malcolm decided to use visual metaphor and symbolic imagery to explain – and leave open to others – what depression feels like. Depression is subjective, depending on the sufferer and how others experience the feeling, and allowing children and adults to arrive at their own interpretations should help create a deeper connection and understanding.
Says Malcolm, “Meh was designed to be completely wordless so that the reader can come to their own conclusion of what they think depression is. It is different for everyone. It is also a tool for parents, guardians and teachers to use to teach children about mental health. I hope it will engage them in discussion about mental illnesses so that they might have a better chance of tackling them in the future and reduce the stigma surrounding it.”
Amazon has a “Look Inside” glimpse available for Meh, and the art is quite evocative. I’m interested in picking up a few copies for my libraries and seeing if these will circulate. Having suffered post-partum depression in the past, I’d have loved to have had a copy of this available to my older children to help them grasp what was going on in our home at the time. Good luck to Ms. Malcolm on this one, and thank you.