In which Brianna reviews a fun picture book, featuring a child wondering how his dad could have given up being cool, and what might have made it happen. We've provided affiliate links if you'd like a copy of your own. By using them, you're helping to keep Busy Nest News going. Thanks for your support!
My Dad Used to Be so Cool, by Keith Negley
In preparation for Father’s Day, we’ve been reading stories about dads and their kids. One of these is My Dad Used to Be so Cool, by Keith Negley. It’s told from the perspective of a little boy. As he watches his dad cleaning the house and preparing to take them to the playground, the boy tries to reconcile his dad with what he knows about his dad’s past. He’s pretty sure Dad used to be in a rock band. It sounds crazy, but he has proof! There are instruments in the closet, and pictures on the wall of Dad rocking a bold, red mohawk. And for some reason Dad’s selling his cool motorcycle. Throughout the book, the boy wonders what could have made his dad give up his awesome lifestyle. After spending an afternoon at the park playing with his dad, the boy considers that maybe his dad is still a little bit cool, after all.
Even if Dad isn’t cool anymore, there’s no denying that this book is. Parents will read the book with a knowing grin, and kids will absorb it with as much confusion and concern as the child telling the story. The pictures are really cool, too. They have a flat, mod, two-dimensional look to them. Monkey’s favorite part of the book is when the father and son go to the park. The two-page spread shows the pair running around the park, playing hide-and-seek, watching clouds, talking, and just having a great time. BUT these pages unfold into a four-page stretch that shows them in more detail, playing on the playground. The illustrations do a perfect job of depicting the emotions of chasing your kid around the playground. By the time Dad puts his son on his shoulders and walks to the beach, you find yourself saying “aww, he actually does seem like a pretty cool dad.”
Monkey’s daddy chuckled when he read the title, but ultimately wasn’t impressed with the story. Likewise, Monkey didn’t enjoy the book as much as I did. I really liked the fact that both father and son had such a strong sense of style, in both their hair and clothes. So many books depict such a generic parent, child, or both that it was really refreshing to see a couple of guys with hair and clothes that effortlessly rock. Also, the book implies that the dad is either a stay-at-home or work-from-home dad, a situation that is becoming much more common. It was really nice to see this role depicted in a way that doesn’t negate Dad’s masculinity or sense of purpose. I’d like to give this book five eggs, but since I’m apparently the only one who enjoyed it, I have to downgrade it a bit. My Dad Used to Be so Cool gets a strong three eggs, and I still really recommend it for any dad whose kid is at the stage where they won’t let you sing along with the radio anymore.
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Ariel and Brianna are friends who met while working in a library. Now they collaborate to develop life-enhancing book club experiences.
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