Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Papa's Backpack


 Papa’s Backpack
By James Christopher Carroll
Sleeping Bear Press, 2015. Picture book.

The subtitle describes this book as “a tribute to the bond between a child and a military parent.” A little bear knows his father has to go away sometimes to be a soldier, but imagines what it would be like if he could go along with him in a backpack and offer support as they faced adversity together.

The text is gentle and poetic but has a wonderful rhythmic rhyming that makes for an enjoyable read-aloud. The idea of war is represented in a very general and symbolic sense, suitable for young children. Although designed to be about a parent’s deployment, the subject is ambiguous enough, and the feelings of love and longing universal enough, to cover any and all separations.

The illustrations alone would make this book extraordinary. Earthy tones, semi-abstract textures, stark contrasts, and swirling colors beautifully amplify the emotions of this sweet but deeply felt tale.

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