cover image Tell Me a Tattoo Story

Tell Me a Tattoo Story

Alison McGhee, illus. by Eliza Wheeler. Chronicle, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-4521-1937-3

A preschooler is fascinated by his father’s elaborate tattoos and the personal history behind them. A dragon tattoo prompts Dad to recall how his mother would read him a beloved book “over and over.” A desert scene takes Dad back to his military service (“the longest trip I ever took”), when he and a line of grunts trudged across a sun-baked landscape. But Dad and his “little man” agree that their favorite tattoo is a small heart, right over the man’s real heart, which contains his son’s birth date. Wheeler’s (Wherever You Go) cutaways to the past are evocative and imaginatively framed, but McGhee’s (The Case of the Missing Donut) decision to give Dad the only voice in the book—he’s both the storyteller and articulator of his son’s questions (“What do you mean, this one’s your favorite?”)—may leave readers wondering why the boy isn’t speaking for himself. Regardless, the premise and pictures make this a deeply touching story—and with its ink-proud, scruffily handsome paterfamilias, it’s right on trend as well. Ages 3–5. Author’s agent: Holly McGhee, Pippin Properties. Illustrator’s agent: Jennifer Rofé, Andrea Brown Literary Agency. (Apr.)