“My daddy has warm hands. His fingers taste like applesauce. I wish he had a thousand hands.”
Spare of words but rich in feeling, this love note tracks some ups and downs but circles back to an attachment so warm and close that only the stoniest of hearts will remain unaffected. Tagging along as his father washes up in the morning, sacks out in front of the television after some vigorous outdoor play and then goes on into the kitchen to peel apples, the young narrator makes contented comments about dad’s hands, muscles and stomach (“soft as a pillow”). When an unspecified offense brings on “thunder daddy,” though, the miffed lad heads for “the forest of Other-and-Better”—a staircase, in the pictures, that transforms into a dense, dark forest of trees with shouting mouths—in search of a nicer parent. The scary experience drives him back into the kitchen where dad, who had himself transformed into a hairy, scowling gorilla, offers a bowl of applesauce and reverts bit by bit over a wordless spread as amity is restored. Aside from an early remark that papa “sounds like a mom when he sings in the bath,” there’s no sign of a second adult.
Reminiscent of Where the Wild Things Are in its visual transformations and emotional intensity, but with a more present and openly loving parent. (Picture book. 4-6)