My Dad, My Rock (Victor D.O. Santos)

Hello, friends! Our book today is My Dad, My Rock, written by Victor D.O. Santos and illustrated by Anna Forlati, a very tender ode to the relationship between father and son.

When Oliver (identified by name on the back cover but not within the story) innocently asks his father why his grandpa “disappeared,” it sparks a meditation on the close relationship the boy shares with his own father. His dad is protective, encouraging, and kind. He comforts Oliver when he’s scared, teaching him to manage his anger yet express his feelings (“I think men who don’t cry aren’t real”). He’s never afraid to be goofy or give hugs. And when Oliver grows up to be a daddy, he hopes to be just like him – if only with a little more hair.

Phenomenal. On the surface, this is simply a classic story about the love between fathers and sons, with a surprising non-traditional twist (context suggests that Oliver’s grandfather abandoned Oliver’s dad before his dad was born). Yet the qualities that Oliver chooses to celebrate in his dad also tell a story of anti-toxic masculinity; of a man raising his son to express love and sadness, temper aggression, and not let the opinions of others define his identity (a telling scene in which Oliver’s dad does a silly dance while a stranger gives him a frowning look exhibits this beautifully). It’s subtle and meaningful, and beautifully written and illustrated with warmth and simplicity. The length is great for a storytime, and JJ and I really loved this one. A fantastic celebration of fatherhood, and we highly recommend it – Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

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