Kirkus Reviews QR Code
FEEL BETTER, DADDY by Nancy Loewen


A Story About Empathy

From the Bright Start Right Start series

by Nancy Loewen ; illustrated by Hazel Michelle Quintanilla

Pub Date: March 12th, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-78603-304-8
Publisher: Words & Pictures

A preschool-age child models ways to help an ailing father get well soon.

While some books about emotional intelligence can be quite preachy, this “story about empathy” sets a sweet, child-friendly tone. A young, pale-skinned but otherwise ethnically ambiguous protagonist notices Daddy’s red nose and sneezing and decides to take over as caregiver for the day. The child reads him a rollicking pirate story, complete with voices; draws him a picture using “every single color from my crayon box”; and snuggles up so they can nap together. These actions feel genuine and accessible, all things toddler listeners could successfully emulate in their own lives. It’s not overly heavy either, with breezy line drawings that sketch round, oversized heads that draw attention to facial expressions and a limited grayscale palette with a cheerful peachy-orange accent color. A light sense of humor pervades, such as a helpful pup, tissues perched precariously on its head, or a dubiously delicious homemade soup. The child straightforwardly narrates the thought process of comforting Daddy, allowing readers to further empathize. With pages composed of unusual, coated stock, the book is sturdy and water-resistant, though its moderately rough texture isn’t as welcoming as its warm story. A companion book about gratitude starring a ginger-haired family holds similarly familiar scenarios.

Unlike many didactic social-skills training texts, this kindhearted board book will resonate with its young audience.

(Board book. 2-4)