Friday, July 29, 2022

Today's read... On My Papa's Shoulders by Niki Daly

 I'm doing a very small, schedule flip-flop and pulling tomorrow's read forward to today because I haven't gotten quite done reading the read, which was suppose to be presented today (and shhhh... I'm already going to admit that (now) tomorrow's read is a goodie).

Today's read greats from South Africa and a prize winning author, Niki Daly. I just loved the cover with a father bouncing his son along on his shoulders. I remember how excited our own children were when they had the chance to ride up there. 

So off we go!

by Niki Daly
Catalyst Press
Picture Book
ages 4 to 8

From award winning children’s writer Niki Daly, author and illustrator of the Lolo early reader series

This little boy loves walking to school with his family, but the best days are when he walks with his dad, who lifts his son onto his shoulders and always says goodbye with a special “I love you”.

Whether it’s jumping in puddles with Tata in the rain, greeting the neighborhood cat on the quiet back streets with Gogo, or holding hands with Mama while rushing to make the bell, walking to school with family is the best. But nothing is better than walking to school with Papa. From high above, resting on Papa's shoulders, all of the town is in perfect view, and Papa always says “I love you” when he says goodbye. A sweet ode to fatherhood and the special relationships children share with each member of their family, On My Papa’s Shoulders reminds us that it’s not about where we’re going, but rather the people who walk with us along the way.



Family love comes across as a big, warm hug and leaves a smile.

Every morning this little boy walks to school, and usually it's with his mother, but some days, his Tata or Gogo accompany him (grandparents). On very special days, he gets to ride to school on is Papa's shoulders, and those are the most wonderful of all.

This is actually a very basic story about a very common activity: walking to school. But the author has brought it across with such care that the simplicity disappears, leaving familiar experiences and tons of good feelings. Each of the four family members takes their turn walking the boy to school, and each one holds a different atmosphere and experience. While there are different things they meet along the way (a cat, rain puddles, etc), it's the personality of the various people, which shines through and shows how each one is very special and important in their own way.

The illustrations are done in watercolor and carry a lighter flair. They don't sink in details, but then, hold more than enough for each scene to pull in. They allow the characters to hold their own appearances and give everything a natural appeal. It's hard not to smile as the boy meets his friends, grabs a hand, or walks along side each person.

It's amazing how something so simple can still grab in, and I believe it's the sense of familiarity, security, and warmth that does this. Even those readers, who don't walk to school, will recognize the situations of accompanying their family members somewhere and remember walking along side them. The differences are subtle between each person and, yet, obvious. None are less important than the other...except for the father, but that's due to the rarity. It's a special bond and nod to fathers, especially with the wonderful hints of the boy's attitude to his father on the last pages. 

This is a read to cuddle up with and enjoy, and one that many readers will identify with. It definitely leaves a smile on the face.

And here he is...

Niki Daly’s groundbreaking Not So Fast Songololo, winner of a US Parent’s Choice Award, paved the way for post-apartheid South African children’s books. Among his many books, Niki Daly’s Jamela’s Dress was chosen by the ALA as a Notable Children’s Book and by Booklist as one of the Top 10 African American Picture Books of 2000. It also won both the Children’s Literature Choice Award and the Parents’ Choice Silver Award. Niki lives with his wife, the author and illustrator Jude Daly, in South Africa.

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