MISSING DADDY by Mariame Kaba


by ; illustrated by
Age Range: 5 - 9
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A little girl reflects on missing her incarcerated father.

An opening epigraph shares that “Each and every family is unique.…We can feel loved, even when the world puts up a wall,” setting the tone for a story that shows the protagonist growing up with the knowledge that her father is in prison. She was 3 when he went away and works through questions about his absence in conversation with Grandma while wishing for a relationship with her older, faraway sister, talking to her counselor, and looking forward to the next visiting day when she’ll see her daddy. The illustrations feature simple line drawings in muted earth tones with textured lines to create dynamic hairstyles, locs, short Afros, and high buns, that frame the various hues of brown skin on the characters’ faces. Charming and heart-wrenching details in the flights of fireflies, bordered pictures in a photo album, and even the expression of the little girl when a classmate whispers, “You know your daddy’s a criminal so that makes you one,” highlight the angst and resilience of the little girl. Unfortunately, the uneven rhyme scheme pulls attention away from the effective storytelling of the illustrations and emphasizes the lack of cohesive narrative movement. An author’s note provides more context and statistics for the story.

This straightforward consideration of children affected by the imprisonment of family members is necessary. (discussion guide) (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 3rd, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-64259-036-4
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Haymarket
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 2019