A dad who measures up
If you only have a mum – tall, strong, intelligent, and good at maths – but you don’t have a dad, you can write an ad, like the protagonist of A a dad who measures up: “I’m looking for a dad – like this and like that. If you are not like that, just stay at home.” But the aspiring dads don’t have the desired requisites. They are neither beautiful nor tall, and they can’t skate. Eventually, only one remains. He has just one requisite: he’s kind. Mum and daughter decide to take him anyway: a daddy who is short and not at all sporty, but who patiently reads good night stories, and who is the kindest of all dads.
The story unfolds through a perfect narration in which the text and the illustrations develop in parallel. Both elements are guided by the narrating voice of the protagonist, a girl who is growing up in a single-parent family, made up of her mother and herself. The mother is the undisputed protagonist of the illustrations which appear in the first part of the picture book. She stands up high above the other mums, she remains impassive when she wins a beauty contest among the other (annoyed) candidates, and she wins over a strong man in arm wrestling. But at a certain point the desire emerges to fill these drawings with the representation of a father too. In the fantasy of the girl, who ideally draws them, her father is a superhero, as beautiful as a movie star, and as clever as four dads put together. In reality, the dad who joins the family – the one that the girl and her mother will welcome in their home – is a normal father: he loves animals and he can cook, but he is not tall, not sporty, and he can’t skate. Since this point, the illustrations become more realistic, hyperbolic images disappear and even the representation of the mother scales down: a dad tailored to reality. The book is also suitable for an unaccompanied reading, because it is eye-catching from a visual point of view, for several reasons: its mimesis with the graphics used by children (the bodies of animals and people are disproportionate, the trait is playful), its very accessible font, and its mixed pictorial technique, with photographic, cartographic and patchwork inserts, etc.
Edited by: Centro MeTRa (Italy)