In this average offering, a boy, his dad and their small dog spend a day at the beach.
Morgan and Kwaymullina’s spare text recounts the many things they contend with and encounter. Dad is fearlessly brave (but more often clueless to the danger) as he survives turning his back on a colossal ocean wave, swimming in a sea full of jellyfish and threatening a couple of menacing sharks. Sunny blues and yellows dominate the palette. Ottley’s illustrations provide the real story as he plays with perspective and exaggerates scale to accentuate the cartoonish tone. On one spread, dad’s comically oversized foot ably steps over super-sharp thornlike shells, and on another a villainous crab with an impossibly huge claw attempts to steal lunch. The unlikely creatures that dad seems to have a true fear of are the ones that the boy enthusiastically chases away. Preschool readers will identify with the fun of scaring off squawking seagulls and enjoy the boy’s role as hero. A troubling oddity, though—the father’s physical characteristics seem altered on the next-to-the-last spread. Through most of the book, he is decidedly dark-skinned and looks vaguely aboriginal (this is an Australian import); in that penultimate picture, his skin tone appears lighter, and the facial features are different.
Seek out more successful funny tales of fathers and sons, such as Ethan Long’s My Dad, My Hero (2010) and Liz Rosenberg’s Tyrannosaurus Dad, illustrated by Matthew Myers (2010). (Picture book. 3-5)