Kirkus Reviews QR Code
DAD'S CAMERA by Ross Watkins


by Ross Watkins ; illustrated by Liz Anelli

Pub Date: Oct. 9th, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-5362-0138-3
Publisher: Candlewick

A father with Alzheimer’s uses a camera to capture memories for his family.

When Dad brings home an old camera, he takes pictures of objects only. Rolls of film reveal the minutiae of life: jam jars, measuring tape, the bus stop. Knowing his father’s circumstances, the son believes the photos represent what his father wants to remember—yet there are no pictures of himself or his mom. Anger, sadness, and empathy wash over them as they remind themselves of what the doctor said about Dad’s behavior. After Dad passes away, the boy and his mom receive a box in the mail with Dad’s writing on the label. Inside is his camera, with one photo on the roll: a snapshot of a framed picture of their family. Together, mother and son realize Dad’s photos were to help them remember him. Anelli uses monoprints to capture the spontaneity of drawing, mirroring the idea of someone trying to capture an impression of his life. She layers these moments of inspiration with collage, watercolors, and digital coloring. Her free-form lines done with a skillful, controlled hand are at the core of the artwork. Done in a primary palette, the impressionistic illustrations have energy and appeal and are tasteful, raw, and emotional. Mom, Dad, and narrator all have light skin and dark hair.

As readers experience uncertainty, Watkins opens the door to discussion, making this an opportunity for dialogue about an illness that touches the lives of so many today.

(Picture book. 5-9)