“To Baby From Daddy” is a heart-warming bedtime story by first-time children’s author, Steve Nguyen. He uses rhyme and illustration to give voice to a father’s love, which is one of the things we love most about this book.
The long-standing paradigm that raising children is a mother’s realm has been shifting, becoming more open to fathers being involved. Yet, we still see children’s books centered around a mother’s view and voice. This father-centering is a rare gem. And because it is the father’s voice, it is an example for other father’s of what to teach and share with their children.
Steve is a Vietnamese-American artist, filmmaker and storyteller and brought himself into his work beautifully. We love that the images reflect his heritage and by its very existence, gives children greater access to seeing the diversity that is life.
The connection to nature in every illustration and in the advice he gives his daughter along their journey through the woods, reminds us all how interconnected we truly are to the universe above, the insects below, and to each other every day.
If there was anything we would improve about this book, it would be two things that most readers are likely not even to notice.
With his background in writing songs and poetry, Uncle Mark would have liked to see more attention paid to the meter of the sentences to accompany the rhyme, creating a more natural flow off the tongue. Knowing how children’s books are read out loud, this can create a sense of rhythm that enhances the story.
With Lori Anne’s background in content development editing, she would have suggested a slightly different order to each piece of advice to create an overarching story line that encompasses the story itself. Rather than have nature talked about, then an unrelated piece of advice, and then coming back to nature, grouping ideas can bring a reader along from moment to moment allowing them to immerse themselves even deeper into the story.
As mentioned, these two thoughts are things the vast majority of readers would never notice because the story stirs the heart and the illustrations lead the way.
The only other aspect of the book that came up was the idea of “always being there” for our children.
Uncle Mark would rather see language used that doesn’t promise something parents may not be able to follow through on. After all, we don’t truly know what the future holds and while parents truly want to “always be there” it may not “always” be possible. May saying, “I’ll always love you,” instead since it’s something a parent does have control over, regardless of any future events.
On the other hand, Lori Anne sees it as expressing the underlying love and commitment that a parent has. And, there are ways to “be there” for our children even if we can’t “be there”. The important thing is for our children to know how much they are valued, loved, and honored.