cover image My Father is in the Navy

My Father is in the Navy

Robin McKinley. Greenwillow Books, $14 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-688-10639-3

A child's inner fears are sensitively portrayed in this subtle picture book. When Sara hears that her father is coming home from the Navy, she is scarcely excited--for she does not remember him. Her indifference to his imminent arrival belies a hidden anxiety over the prospect of seeing him again, and perhaps guilt at having forgotten him. While her mother is full of gaiety as Daddy's ship pulls in, Sara is dour: ``I didn't say hello to anyone. I didn't see anybody I knew.'' But when the moment of truth arrives, Sara looks up into a kindly face and remembrance returns in an affecting rush. Brief yet poignant, the narrative achieves a surprising psychological depth. The sunniness of Gourbault's smudged pastels reflects Sara's mother's happiness, while their softness conveys the girl's doubts. Though Sara initially resembles a boy, this is a minor cavil: the beautifully matched gentleness of both text and art make this tender tale resound with the ring of truth. Ages 4-up. (Apr.)