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*I Lost My Dad* by Taro Gomi

 
Also by Taro Gomi:

Squiggles: A Really Giant Painting and Drawing Book

Spring Is Here/Llego La Primavera [bilingual]

My Friends/Mis Amigos [bilingual]

My Friends



 

I Lost My Dad
by Taro Gomi
Ages 4-8 32 pages Kane/Miller April 2001 Hardcover    

This story is a simple one. A young boy and his father go to a department store and become separated. The boy realizes he is alone and initiates a search to locate his dad. On numerous occasions, the boy mistakenly believes he has found him after seeing a familiar shoe, hat, or other body feature that bears a resemblance to his lost parent. Readers are invited to participate in the search by lifting up flaps and unfolding book pages to see whether any of the partially hidden images the boy comes across is the father whom he is frantically trying to find. Each time the entire figure the boy believes to be his father is revealed, it becomes apparent that things are not as they appear, and the little boy remains alone, surrounded by strangers, hoping for a speedy reunion.

This description lays the foundation for a charming story, and it is this very potential that makes the book’s failed delivery so incredibly disappointing. As a starting point, even this book’s title, I Lost My Dad is unnecessarily problematic. While the intent may be to suggest a playful game of hide-and-seek between a father and his son, the words chosen suggest that a young boy must deal with the death of a parent. In fact, I came across this book numerous times and hurriedly passed it by for this very reason. It was only after taking the time to peruse its contents (after I learned its author was the same one who penned a favorite of mine, Everyone Poops) that I learned it was not a book about a boy having to come to terms with a terrible loss.

Even if you get past the title, the illustrations only enhance this defect. Despite the allure of the expressionless faces which reflect the same boyish charm as Taro Gomi’s earlier book, the mention of a lost parent accompanied by illustrations reflecting at best neutrality, at worst a traumatic event, will likely deter even more potential readers from picking up this book in favor or those with more inviting covers. These same illustrations add to the fearfulness (or at the very least uneasiness) readers will likely feel as the young boy unsuccessfully searches for his dad through the pages of this book.

Especially in today’s world, where we often hear of traumatic stories surrounding the abduction of small children, it is incredibly difficult to recommend a children’s book that centers around the separation of a child and a parent. Any parent who has lost sight of a child for even a split second or any children who have found themselves in a similar situation will unlikely find much joy in this story, despite the author’s creative presentation and the eventual reunion between the father and son.
   


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  Lori West/2006 for curled up with a good kid's book  






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