Raschka celebrates the many roles fathers and children take on when they spend time together.
The tall, skinny trim size and largely white background emphasize the relationship between father and child that fills each spread, leaving little room for the sparse text, mostly just one to three words per page. “Horse / and rider” opens the book, showing a child with long braids astride a man who’s down on his hands and knees. The next page shows the same pair, “Queen / and jester,” as they pose, she in a crown, he clowning for her. The third contains the book’s refrain, “Side by side,” and shows the two, hand in hand, flying kites. This pattern repeats with other parent-child pairs of diverse skin tones and hair textures (though most pairs have similar features and coloring). One pair swaps roles as teacher and learner (as they fish and then jump rope); some engage in activities together—pretend play, chess—and others separately (“base / and explorer”). Raschka’s trademark illustrative style is in evidence in his brushy watercolors. Readers will have no doubt as to the emotions of the characters, and they are sure to find both mirrors of their own play as well as ideas for new ways to interact with their grown-ups.
Parents and children will seek out some side-by-side time after sharing this. (Picture book. 3-7)