YOUR DADDY WAS JUST LIKE YOU

Kids love to hear stories about their parents as children and this funny and loving ode to little boys and the dads they grow up to become is guaranteed to delight three generations at once.

 

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Reviews

"In this heartwarming picture book....readers are engaged in a tender trip down memory lane...The humorous text is in perfect sync with the simple illustrations. This unique book is an excellent choice, particularly for Father’s Day." —School Library Journal
"[T]he illustrations for the book are loving tributes to boyhood, even in its messiest, mud-jumping state....the book's appealing pictures of the past will prompt loving memories from children's own grandparents." —Booklist
"A grandmother regales her grandson with an account of his father’s infant- and childhood, including achievements and frailties and always touching base with the refrain, “Just like you.” The strength of Bennett’s text is in its honest and loving confrontation of not-so-adorable aspects of childhood.” —Kirkus Reviews
"This is a pattern book (but I will not tell you the pattern, so I don't ruin the surprise). I enjoyed the silly games the Daddy played because they were funny and reminded me of what my younger brother and I used to do. The pictures were very descriptive of the story and matched up with the story line wonderfully.” —Nerd Review by Chloe

Additional Reviews


Making this Book:

November 10th, 2006 was a red letter day for YOUR DADDY. That’s the day Susan Kochan, my editor at G. P. Putnam's Sons, a division of Penguin Young Readers, said YES! She wanted to publish my story—the day I did my happy “She loves it! She loves it! Rah! Rah! Rah!” dance.

Three years and four months later YOUR DADDY WAS JUST LIKE YOU was born! Which feels like a long wait—longer than an elephant is pregnant—but it’s not unusual. Most picture books take at least two years from manuscript to published book—and that’s if the publisher chooses an illustrator really fast, and if the illustrator works really fast, and if the illustrator doesn’t have other work scheduled or plans to take a world tour, and if there aren’t zillions of revisions that need to be made.

There is a writing adage that goes: “Writing is 10% inspiration and 90% revision.” This is certainly true with my writing. YOUR DADDY WAS JUST LIKE YOU went through 14 revisions (not including the small tweaks). I even tried writing it as a country story: “Your Daddy Was My Youngin” and as an alien story: “Your Daddy Was My Flootle.” And, even after selling it, I had to make some revisions.

So, I was very happy to learn that illustrators also have to make revisions, too. Their art doesn’t always “work” the first go around.

Illustrations in Progress:

Here are some of David Walker’s artworks for YOUR DADDY.

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Isn’t his art lively? And his characters show so much emotion.

Still, even David had to make changes. Below are some of the spreads Susan asked David to change. She shared with me reasons why the changes needed to be made.

I’ve included them here so you can get an idea of how the art comes together with the words to create a picture book.

Here is an early sketch for the school scene in the story. The text reads "When he started school, your daddy said "IT’S HARD" and "DO I HAVE TO?"

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However, in this sketch, the artwork is good.  And it seems that painting time, especially when you are that good, would be fun, not hard, and not something the boy would be saying “DO I HAVE TO?” about.

So Susan asked David to rethink the scene.

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Here's a revised version of the school scene. Paint time is out. Now the boy is entering the classroom for the first time. But wait, who is that standing beside him? Sure entering a new school alone could be scary. But with Mom there to back you up, it might not be scary enough...

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Success! After only-David-knows how many revisions, here's the scene revised and ready to print. Look at our boy's face! Entering the class all alone—no mommy for backup—now that's scary.

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The first sketch (left) is also from the “school” scene. In this sketch the boy seems too old. Notice how difficult the math problems are? So Susan asked David to "give it another try."

In the finished artwork (below), David created exactly the right scene. The math problems are simpler. The boy looks younger, and so earnest! Isn't he cute? Exactly right.

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To take a sneak peek at more of the finished artwork, click here.

Teamwork

Creating a picture book is a collaborative process.  Sure, the author writes the story, and the illustrator creates the art to go with the words, however putting those words and pictures together is a mega-team effort.

In the case of YOUR DADDY WAS JUST LIKE YOU the design team included: Susan Kochan, my editor; Cecilia Yung, Art Director; and Assistant Art Director, Richard Amari. 

They worked with David Walker throughout the illustration process, giving input on sketches and the color palette, deciding how best to illustrate the story, where page breaks should be, and more. Then, once the story and art were perfect, they kicked it into high gear: deciding what font to use for the words, how big the type should be, where and how to position it on the page, how big the book should be, what the cover and back cover should look like, where copyright information and dedications will go, what the endpapers will look like—and zillions of other details I can't even imagine.

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Buy the Book

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An Interview with illustrator David Walker

What is your favorite food now?

Does coffee count as a food???

What was your favorite food when you were a kid?

I'm not sure about my favorite, but the most fun was eating watermelon in my back yard with my friends.   For a kid, what's more fun than getting to spit seeds and not get in trouble for it!?

What is your favorite thing to do when you're not working?

I'm lucky enough to have two young daughters, so I can safely say that doing things with them is my favorite "off work" thing to do.  I also like being with my two dogs, playing basketball, fishing, and working in the yard.  My wife would probably throw in "flopping on the couch and watching TV." (Fortunately she's not the one answering these questions.)

Why/how did you become a children's book illustrator?

I always knew I was going to be an artist (I was that kid who drew constantly in school), but I certainly didn't know I would be a children's book illustrator.  Even today it feels odd that children's books have become such a big part of what I do because I actually "fell into" doing them a few years ago.  

I license my work on a variety of products such as greeting cards and fabrics, and at the time I had a wall calendar on the market.  

Fortunately for me, an editor at a book publisher had my calendar hanging on her office wall and thought I would be a good fit to illustrate a manuscript for her.  Once my first book was published, it led to other books, and now I guess I'm a children's book illustrator!   Who would have guessed that doing a wall calendar could open such a terrific door for my career? But I couldn't be happier about taking my art this direction. 

What's your all time favorite picture book and why?

I could never pick a favorite.  I think my favorite part about children's books is their incredibly wide range of looks and subjects.  From heavily illustrated to simple and whimsical, I'm drawn to the ability of a book to capture a child's attention and imagination.  It's a terrifically creative field to work in and I'm thrilled for the opportunity to be part of it.

Author Read-Aloud on YouTube!