The Dictionary of Dads: Poems by Justin Coe and Steve Wells

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The Dictionary of Dads: Poems by Justin Coe and Steve Wells

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Category: Children's Rhymes and Verse
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: This competent and well-crafted debut collection is in a way about a lot more than just the one paternal subject. With the variety of responses to dads, the chief response here is admiration.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 112 Date: May 2017
Publisher: Otter-Barry Books
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9781910959169

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What connects all the audience of this book it that they will have, or will have had, a father. Of course the modern world and current morals may mean that father is not present, or not even known, but somewhere along the line the biological character will exist. Chances are, as well, they will exist on these pages. It's lucky for me, though – and, more importantly, enjoyable for the reader – that the contents have the wide variety to allow such a sweeping statement to be true, for here we get cross-dressing dads, dads who have left home, dads who collect their children for a weekend's worth of pirate games – and yes, even a female dad. All poems come with the open-eyed upward-looking wonder of a young child, and there is some sense of wonder too at just how clever and diverse the variety here is.

That variety and the real-life nature of the world today is reflected in everything here not being entirely happy. The poem concerning the faraway father is wonderful in its poignancy – he mouths your name on every breath / It isn't you who he has left. Conversely, one rhyme about a giant dad seems to be a jolly ditty about abuse, ending with the child leaving home. Another dad seems to get too much when his football team loses. Luckily most works are more happy – one or two compare the father figure to an animal (and I didn't include the lark about the Donkey Derby in that), a few posit the father as a caveman, the source of a select few phrases he spouts now and again like a jukebox with only ten records, or the embodiment of Christmas, while others hit perfectly on aspects of life, the best of those being regarding the Bank of Dad.

With that variety come the necessary, but perfectly achieved, contrasts in style. Some are definitely heavy on the rhyme and rhythm, others a lot looser. Some touch on the Limerick almost, others are longer lists of kenning phrases. None outstay their welcome, and a lot really jump off the page when read aloud, proving the author's pedigree and training in the school recital that led up to this debut publication. But even from a more published name I might not have been expecting such a successful spread – presented alphabetically, all 26 letters have from one to six entries, and we get at least fifty different dads. As I implied earlier, everyone in the primary-aged market for this will be able to relate to at least a few of these pieces, and I dare say too there are some adults seeking a child to match and to share this book with.

I must thank the publishers for my review copy.

You also get a welter of different viewpoints with the help of Message from the Moon by Hilda Offen.

Buy The Dictionary of Dads: Poems by Justin Coe and Steve Wells at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Dictionary of Dads: Poems by Justin Coe and Steve Wells at Amazon.co.uk


Buy The Dictionary of Dads: Poems by Justin Coe and Steve Wells at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Dictionary of Dads: Poems by Justin Coe and Steve Wells at Amazon.com.

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