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My Father Knows the Names of Things Hardcover – April 27, 2010


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Lexile Measure: 320L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers; Repackage edition (April 27, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416948953
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416948957
  • Product Dimensions: 11.3 x 9.5 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #680,709 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

PreSchool-Grade 1—This paean to fatherhood is not really a story but rather a list of all of the things the narrator's father knows, ending with, "He points out everything we see/And teaches all the names to me." It is simply a poetic love song and as such could be very effective. Unfortunately, the rhyme scheme is occasionally uneven. While lines like "My father knows the names of things,/Each different sort of bell that rings," work fine, they are followed by "And stones,/And knows the names of planets,/Stars,/And even human bones." The mixed-media illustrations, however, are wonderful. The boy and his dad exude love and companionship as they paint walls, study bugs, and fly in fanciful airplanes together. The pictures are full of movement and whimsy, and the final scene shows the child in bed in a darkened room, dreaming, with his father looking in on him. The paintings are detailed and varied and do an impressive job of depicting the imagery in Yolen's poem.—Amy Lilien-Harper, The Ferguson Library, Stamford, CT
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

A young boy relates in rhyme all the things his dad knows the names of; e.g., “He knows which mosses are the fuzziest, / He knows which insects are the buzziest, / And when we’re sailing on the sea / He tells the names of fish to me.” The sprightly watercolor-and-gouache illustrations put oomph into the tableaus; for instance, the spread for “He knows the names of dogs” portrays a female dog walker with seven irascible dogs in tow. In each example, the specific names in the category are not given, which could have provided a guessing/participation element. For example, while father and son paint a wall together, it is said that Dad knows seven words that all mean blue, yet those words aren’t named; rather, seven different shades of blue are daubed across the top of the page. But each event demonstrates a warm and caring relationship between father and son while communicating the boy’s palpable sense of pride. Preschool-Grade 2. --Julie Cummins

More About the Author

Born and raised in New York City, Jane Yolen now lives in Hatfield, Massachusetts. She attended Smith College and received her master's degree in education from the University of Massachusetts. The distinguished author of more than 170 books, Jane Yolen is a person of many talents. When she is not writing, Yolen composes songs, is a professional storyteller on the stage, and is the busy wife of a university professor, the mother of three grown children, and a grandmother. Active in several organizations, Yolen has been on the Board of Directors of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, was president of the Science Fiction Writers of America from 1986 to 1988, is on the editorial board of several magazines, and was a founding member of the Western New England Storytellers Guild, the Western Massachusetts Illustrators Guild, and the Bay State Writers Guild. For twenty years, she ran a monthly writer's workshop for new children's book authors. In 1980, when Yolen was awarded an honorary Doctor of Law degree by Our Lady of the Elms College in Chicopee, Massachusetts, the citation recognized that "throughout her writing career she has remained true to her primary source of inspiration--folk culture." Folklore is the "perfect second skin," writes Yolen. "From under its hide, we can see all the shimmering, shadowy uncertainties of the world." Folklore, she believes, is the universal human language, a language that children instinctively feel in their hearts. All of Yolen's stories and poems are somehow rooted in her sense of family and self. The Emperor and the Kite, which was a Caldecott Honor Book in 1983 for its intricate papercut illustrations by Ed Young, was based on Yolen's relationship with her late father, who was an international kite-flying champion. Owl Moon, winner of the 1988 Caldecott Medal for John Schoenherr's exquisite watercolors, was inspired by her husband's interest in birding. Yolen's graceful rhythms and outrageous rhymes have been gathered in numerous collections. She has earned many awards over the years: the Regina Medal, the Kerlan Award, the World Fantasy Award, the Society of Children's Book Writers Award, the Mythopoetic Society's Aslan Award, the Christopher Medal, the Boy's Club Jr. Book Award, the Garden State Children's Book Award, the Daedalus Award, a number of Parents' Choice Magazine Awards, and many more. Her books and stories have been translated into Japanese, French, Spanish, Chinese, German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Afrikaans, !Xhosa, Portuguese, and Braille. With a versatility that has led her to be called "America's Hans Christian Andersen," Yolen, the child of two writers, is a gifted and natural storyteller. Perhaps the best explanation for her outstanding accomplishments comes from Jane Yolen herself: "I don't care whether the story is real or fantastical. I tell the story that needs to be told."

Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By boxwood100 TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 3, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Not too sure what exactly to say about this book. It rhymes sometimes, but then stops and it gets awkward. The book isn't a story but more of a chant that this boy's dad knows the names of everything they see. However, the boy isn't going to tell us the names of the things in the book either - it's a big secret I guess! It would be much more enjoyable if it did rhyme, tell the names of particular things that are both mentioned and illustrated, and overall, be more inclusive of the reader. Really, it's not that great of a book and honestly, I cannot recommend you spend your money on it. It's just an, "oh, that's all there is to it?" kind of book once you've read to the end. Didn't care for the illustrations at all in this one - just a bit too bland and noninviting. Kids didn't care much for it at all. Just no story, nothing there that grabs their attention or their imagination. They wanted to put it down immediately because they wanted something that actually tells a story and held their attention. Sorry, but can't recommend this one.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Glacier Mom VINE VOICE on May 24, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The concept behind the book is sweet and true (if slightly patriarchal, like Adam naming the animals with God); to children it must seem magical that parents know the names of things with such specificity, yet without more wit or humor (the art could pull more weight here), it kind of fizzles. The book hits me as a product written to the Father's Day market, rather than a story written to children.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By S. Cheek on April 29, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I am buying this book as a father's day present after reading it in the library. The book's illustrations feature a father and son and is written from the son's perspective. The father knows so many names for the color blue, the different names for clouds when they go flying, all kinds of insect names, and so on. My husband is just that kind of guy. We have friends who would use my husband for a life line if they were on that millionaire game show. I can't wait for Father's Day to see his reaction when he reads it with our boys.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kurt A. Johnson TOP 1000 REVIEWER on March 7, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This is quite a nice children’s book, portraying a slightly fantastic relationship between a boy and his father. I suppose all boys look up to their fathers who seem to know everything and seem to be able to do everything. And this book celebrates that wonderful, though sadly fleeting, time.

It’s a fun book, filled with colorful pictures and gently rhyming text that is just right for a 5-6 year old reader. My little reader enjoyed this book, and I did too. Three cheers for the world seen by a child!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Quick and Dirty on November 26, 2011
Format: Hardcover
There is nothing to read in this book. There is no story and the illustrations are not interesting or colorful enough to capture the interest of a child. The acclaimed author must have done an experiment: "Lets see if they would publish such a worthless work just because I submit it." Well, they did.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
My Father Knows the Names of Things, probably won't become a classic kids book, however I think it would make the perfect gift for any man and son. The book is beautifully illustrated by Stephane Jorisch. Her style is bright, colorful and has a definite water color paint look. Your child will not be bored with the pages as you turn from one amazing scene to the next. The book is only a few minute read with short sentences on each page, but I enjoyed discussing different painted objects on the page as we read along. The book discusses how as a child our parents seem "so all knowing" and seem to be able to answer all the questions of our wondering minds. The boy discusses (sometimes in rhyming form) how his dads knows everything from types of cheeses to kinds of clouds.

My only reason for not giving this book a five out of five stars was because this book, although cute and sweet, lacks any meaningful "lesson". Often we enjoy reading our children stories about character or a book where they might learn more about a subject. This book is more of a poem rather than that. However, like I mentioned earlier you are free to go into further discussion on the pages. For example, on the pages where all the planets are illustrated and all it says is that his dad knows all the names...although they aren't listed, you could teach them to your child and even go further talking about planets before turning the page.

Happy Reading. Great Father's Day gift idea.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I really wanted to like this book. I have really enjoyed Jane Yolen in the past. I am a father, and the idea that your father is the person who helps you to learn the names of things around you, who stretches you emotionally and from a vocabulary standpoint (!) is a pretty wonderful concept. I strive hard to do this for my boys, and I was excited to share this with my children. Unfortunately, a fantastic concept was burdened by clunky writing. I think that the author was trying for whimsical, to my ear, it was just stilted. As with many children's books, I feel that this one was meant to be shared by reading aloud--however, the odd word choices and rhythmic choices that author made made it hard for my kids to enjoy and hard for me to read. Ultimately, we read this probably twice together, and they have not asked for it again. The book is well illustrated, but once more the style is nothing especially original, and the kids were not clamoring to see the illustrations as they do with some books. All in all, not bad, but give it a read before you buy it. I wish Ms. Yolen, who in general has a really wonderful imagination and a good feel for children's literature, had a chance to do a do-over on this one, because this fine book could have been really really wonderful.
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