Book of the Week: My Dad Used to Be So Cool
Keith Negley’s playful and emotional art tells this story of a new father who is no longer the cool guy he once was. He looks back wistfully on his crazy times playing in a band, riding a motorcycle, and getting tattoos. Those days may be behind him, but his young son still thinks he’s the coolest guy in the world.
This is the story of a father and a son and the day they spend together. This simple premise mixes humor and the perfect amount of emotional heft for a story that resonates. Through spare text, the boy narrates that he knows his dad “used to be cool,” because he was in a band and rode a motorcycle. As he wonders why his dad gave it all up, readers infer that the father would rather spend time with his son than pursue his old interests. The illustrations use a primary color scheme that supports the poignant mood created by the text. In many of the illustrations, the focal point is a single object in the foreground that takes up most of the space on the page (the motorcycle in the yard, the father kneeling over to tie his son’s shoe). This makes the illustrations engaging, especially for young readers. The dad is drawn with prominent tattoos, which lends the father/son duo an inclusive feel and presents one representation of a modern family. The most appealing element of the book is that it works on two levels. Children will appreciate the humor and bold illustrations, while the greater message will be meaningful to parents and other adult readers. VERDICT This is a recommended purchase for any children’s collection and would be a great addition to storytime programming.—Celia Dillon, The Brearley School, New York City
Interview with Keith Negley – Artists of the North Sound
Chatting with Keith Negley about fatherhood, ninjas, challenging gender norms, and more in his home studio. Keith’s work has appeared on book covers, children’s books, t-shirts, album covers, posters, skateboard decks, and watches, and he is a frequent contributor to The New York Times and New Yorker as well as many other national magazines and newspapers. Look for his children’s book about Mary Edwards Walker next year.
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