A child suspects that his pops was once pretty cool and wonders what changed.
Negley’s follow-up to Tough Guys (Have Feelings Too) (2015) is all about the subtext. In his poster-style apartment scenes, evidence of coolness abounds, from drum kits and an electric guitar to the skateboard with the painted skull—not to mention the parental forearms festooned with wild tattoos. But while the young narrator visualizes rock concerts, orange mohawks, and fast motorcycles, what he sees is dad, hair now black and conservatively cut, folding laundry, vacuuming, and taking his son out (in a compact station wagon) for a romp in the park and a walk on the beach. He’s so serious now. “Something must have happened,” the lad puzzles, “for him to give it all up.” Perceptive readers will figure out what—or more accurately, who—“happened.” And as a further addition to the unspoken narrative, aside from one picture on the wall, there is no sign of a second parent. Dad and lad are both sunburnt pink, but there is some variation in the skin tone of passersby in the park. At day’s end the boy admits “OK, so maybe he’s still a tiny bit cool.” But then, rocking out on the way home, dad flashes heavy-metal–style horns out the window: “Yeah—nope, he’s not.”
Yes, he sure is. (Picture book. 6-9)