A father tells his son about the tattoos that mark milestones in his life.
The entire text is composed of the dad’s monologue—“this one’s from my favorite book that my mom used to read to me. / Did she read it to me over and over and over? / She sure did”—but the son’s questions and obvious wonder are more than evident in his eyes and body language. A left-forearm tattoo is a reminder of his father’s wisdom: “Be Kind.” And one of some flowers, a Ferris wheel, and fireworks brings the dad back to the day he met a pretty girl with a wonderful smile. A tattoo on his side commemorates the longest trip he ever took. The turn of the page reveals him as a soldier. And a tiny little heart above his own? That’s just a heart inscribed with “somebody’s birthday,” and it happens to be both father’s and son’s favorite. As the father is telling these stories, the little family is tenderly getting the boy ready for bed. Wheeler’s fine-lined illustrations, done in India ink with dip pens and watercolors, recall picture books of the 1970s in both feel and color (though the father does the dishes while the mother writes in the next room; all three are white). The homey compositions make very plain the love that is behind each tattoo memory, the father following in his parents’ footsteps in being the kind of present and available parent they exemplified.
Love that is skin-deep. (Picture book. 4-8)