Wednesday 30 October 2013

What's Dad Doing?

What’s Dad Doing? by Susan Hall, illustrated by Cheryl Westenberg (National Library of Australia)
PB RRP $17.99
ISBN 978-0-642-27834-7
Reviewed by Emma Cameron

Opening with “Pat Possum and is friend Wesley Wombat are looking for Pat’s Dad”, gives readers a sound starting point and raises their interest. Pat and Wesley are dressed in capes, with Pat carrying a toy sword, and they want Dad to come and play. But like many fathers, Dad has jobs to do. The boys must amuse themselves between repeated searches for him.

As readers lift the flap on each page they will see what Dad does.

Ringtails are the only possums where Dad helps Mum look after the baby. Pat’s dad is excellent at all sorts of jobs. He make’s Pat’s lunch, feeds the baby, serves Grandma a cuppa, hangs washing, cooks dinner and sweeps the floor. Before lifting the flap we see Pat’s thoughts as he repeats “I wonder if he’s …”.

When the work is done, the narrator steps back in to tell us, “Pat Possum’s Dad is ready to play now”. Dad says, “Let’s play footy together” and a turn of the page reveals that the story is done. Leaving Pat behind we see a new, non-fiction possum make his entrance. He has two double-page spreads to tell his story, accompanied by visuals of him in his natural setting.

This character says “Hi, nice to meet you, I’m a ringtail possum just like Pat!” He then tells some facts about himself, including where he lives, what he eats, how he lived in Mum’s pouch when he was younger, and what he uses his tail for. It’s a nice way of providing young readers with some non-fiction basics about a native animal.

Brightly coloured illustrations in Pat’s section show kids, parents and grandparent in ways all of us will connect with. While Mum is tied to baby for the most part, Dad steps up to take on a great load and this is also something that young children who have a new baby in the house will relate to. High quality paper will, hopefully, let readers lift-the-flap many times.

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