Wherein Brianna introduces a book that helps military kids understand where their parent is when they aren't at home. This article contains affiliate links. Using them helps keep Busy Nest News going. Thanks for your support!
My Daddy Sleeps Everywhere, by Jesse Franklin and Tahna Desmond Fox
My Daddy Sleeps Everywhere, written by Jesse Franklin and illustrated by Tahna Desmond Fox is a picture book for military kids. On each page, Daddy is shown sleeping in a new position and in totally different terrains and climates. In concise, rhyming prose, Franklin explains that Daddy sleeps in forests, deserts, snow, and rain. Daddy sleeps on boats, prairies, airplanes, and in broken houses far away. But Daddy’s favorite place to sleep is home. The story is accompanied by Fox’s detailed watercolors depicting each location, with the sleeping Daddy (and his coworkers and gear) contrasting as a simple black and white line drawing.
At only 1% of the U.S. population, military families are a minority. As such, there aren’t a lot of great books for helping our kids with the various challenges involved in our families’ service. With the rise of independent publishers, vanity presses, and viable online self-publishing options, more service members and spouses are opting to fill this gap with some much-needed literature. However, that doesn’t mean they’re all the same caliber we would expect of more mainstream children’s books. In fact, some are quite bad. So where does My Daddy Sleeps Everywhere fit?
I’m relieved to say that My Daddy Sleeps Everywhere is one of the good ones. I say relieved, because I had to buy it myself, as it wasn’t available in my library system. The illustrations are not going to win a Caldecott, but they are some of the very best I’ve seen in this genre. The choice to make Daddy a blank slate was an interesting one, but it really paid off! You can visualize Daddy and his uniform as being any color and from any branch of the service. The first time we read this book, Monkey mentally imposed the image of her own daddy on the Daddy illustrations. In the group pictures, she’s very confident which is her daddy. Monkey’s daddy (in real life, not the book daddy) was impressed by the level of detail in the pages on the ship and the airplane. The ship very clearly has a crane and an air traffic control (ATC) tower, and the plane has cargo nets everywhere. Likewise, the poses Daddy sleeps in look very accurate. Sometimes he’s curled up on the ground, sometimes reclining on a rock or tree, and sometimes he’s sleeping sitting up.
As pleased as we are with the pictures, the text was just as great. Franklin kept it brief, with only one simple sentence on each page. The rhymes are easy and unforced. Some of the other books we’ve seen for military kids have two or more paragraphs on each page! My Daddy Sleeps Everywhere builds kids’ empathy for their absent daddies without bogging the message down in details.
We’re giving My Daddy Sleeps Everywhere four eggs. As a whole, it has this slightly amateurish feeling to it (maybe it's the font choices?), but it’s still a really solid pick. Monkey has asked to read it almost every day since it was delivered. That reminds me, another fun feature of this book is that it is printed in the United States. It’s pretty easy to feel good about this book, if it’s what you need. The downside is that there is no My Mommy Sleeps Everywhere. Again, I don’t expect every book to be everything to everyone. It’s just a bit of a shame that there is no mommy counterpart book. Admittedly, this book will do the trick for the majority of military families. We’ll need additional books to help Monkey understand her daddy’s job fully, but I’m glad we have this one for now.
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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