From School Library Journal
PreSchool-Grade 2—Molly's dad lives "a whole plane ride away." Lacking knowledge about his interests and livelihood, she invents grand tales when other fathers visit her school to share their talents. When her mother goes on a trip, he arrives to care for her. His boisterous personality, spicy cooking, and silly nicknames overwhelm her at first, and her anxiety about getting to school on time and in one piece (on his bicycle) is palpable. The tension is alleviated by the enthusiastic approval of her classmates as they respond to his songs and stories. Her supportive teacher points out that father and daughter are "two peas in a pod." Ormerod's text displays her characteristic sensitivity to the emotional mood swings of youngsters, and Thompson's dynamic mixed-media compositions underscore the affective elements. Endpapers portray Molly using face paints, a mirror, and a photograph of her parent to understand how they are alike; thick black eyebrows and a mustache are part of the fun. Colors are introduced and linked to the characters as well. The intense Molly is clad in bright red, while her nurturing daddy wears an oversize yellow-green shirt that remains with Molly after he leaves. Loose, breezy lines and the frequent use of smudges (charcoal?) on animate and inanimate objects create the perfect degree of visual untidiness to match the protagonists' lively lives. The story is warm and tender, and oh so satisfying as the two adapt and snuggle and love one another.—Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library
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Many picture books about divorce, such as Claire Masurel’s Two Homes (2001), present a well-adjusted child who shuttles between two devoted parents’ homes. In this upbeat offering, though, a young girl barely knows her divorced dad. Molly loves to make up stories about her absent father: he is in the jungle, he is in space, he is a famous artist. Then Molly’s mom has to take a trip, and Papa comes to stay. At first, Molly is wary of her big, noisy father who makes too-spicy pizza and calls her silly nicknames. Most confusing is what to call him: “Father, Papa, Daddy, Joe”? But after Papa charms her classmates with stories, Molly recognizes herself in her dad, and the two form a genuine, loving bond. Ormerod’s lively, economical text, filled with sound effects, reads aloud well, while Thompson’s exuberant mixed-media illustrations greatly extend the words with dialogue bubbles and sensitive, heart-tugging, kinetic scenes that show Molly’s initial disorientation and then her feelings of connection and shared love. A refreshing, reassuring view of growing up with divorced parents. Preschool-Grade 2. --Gillian Engberg