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Fathers from Children's and Young Adult Literature

For this month's Carnival of Children's Literature, host Susan Taylor Brown has asked for posts about fathers in children's literature. (Submissions are due by this coming Saturday). Because I have a short attention span, I decided to post about the five best and five worst fathers from children's and young adult literature that I've read about this year. Most links are to my reviews. Lists are in no particular order (though, if you've read the books, you'll probably see a clear winner for worst father from the list).

First Best Fathers from my 2008 Children's/YA Reading

  1. Kate's father Milligan from The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey by Trenton Lee Stewart. He is strong and resourceful and works hard to protect the kids, without stifling them.
  2. Clementine's father from Clementine's Letter by Sara Pennypacker. He is both supportive and fun. My favorite Dad moment is when he explains to Clementine that of course her Mom doesn't mind her buying him a present, or vice versa, because they love each other.
  3. The dad from The Penderwicks on Gardam Street by Jeanne Birdsall. Although a bit absent-minded, he is there for his daughters when it counts. And in the scene where he takes Batty out on her own is priceless.
  4. Maggie's hippie dad from How NOT to Be Popular by Jennifer Ziegler. He comes across a bit clueless, but when Maggie needs his support with the principal, he displays hidden talents. And there's a scene involving juggling in a high school cafeteria that is worth the price of the book alone.
  5. Lily's dad from Cicada Summer by Andrea Beaty. He has a particular mannerism that demonstrates his love for his daughter countless times a day.

Five Worst Fathers from my 2008 Children's/YA Reading

  1. Eli's crazy billionaire father from The Compound by S. A. Bodeen. You'll have to read the book to see why he makes the list.
  2. The untrustworthy father from The Willoughbys by Lois Lowry. He schemes to abandon his children, and sells their house out from under them.
  3. Billie's taciturn father from Billie Standish was Here, by Nancy Crocker. We learn in the first chapter that he wanted a boy, and thus named his daughter William. (This book is wonderful, but I have not yet reviewed it).
  4. The absentee Casson father from Saffy's Angel, by Hilary McKay. He distances himself from the reality of his family, in exchange for an idealized, imaginary version.
  5. Jessie's father from Running Out of Time by Margaret Peterson Haddix. He loved his kids, but he allowed them to be put in danger, so that he could live a particular lifestyle. 

© 2009 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved.