cover image My Dad

My Dad

Niki Daly. Margaret K. McElderry Books, $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-689-50620-8

The delicate issue of alcoholism is thoughtfully explored in Daly's (Not So Fast, Songololo) latest picture book. Though the brother and sister featured here dearly love their father, they are embarrassed and increasingly anxious about his drinking. Friday nights start with music and laughter as Dad and his drinking buddies gather around the kitchen table, but the evenings always end in a heated argument between Dad and Mom. A Friday-night school concert becomes the turning point; Dad shows up drunk and humiliates his children, who had practiced their act in secret in hopes he wouldn't attend. The tale ends on a hopeful note, however, with Dad persuaded to join Alcoholics Anonymous. Daly's gentle touch extends to both words and pictures: her sensitive, graceful prose is coupled with soft-focus watercolors that underscore the poignancy of her characters' struggles. In one particularly moving scene, the children hover just beneath a cozy family portrait as they watch their parents argue over a bottle of liquor that Mom is trying to pour down the sink. For a certain audience, this book could be tremendously healing. Ages 5-8. (Apr.)