Jill Biden, Author
Raúl Colón, Illustrator
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2012
Suitable for Ages: 5-8
Themes: Children of Military Personnel, Soldiers, Family Relationships
Opening: “Does Daddy Really Have to Go?” “Daddy is a soldier,” Natalie’s mom answers in a quiet voice. “Soldiers have to do hard things sometimes.” She runs her hand through Natalie’s hair. Her father takes Natalie in his arms. “Home is wherever I’m with you!” he sings softly.
Synopsis: Natalie’s father has been deployed overseas for a year and she misses him. She and her brother, Hunter, are supported by a loving mother and Nana. They celebrate holidays and help Natalie bake cookies and pack care packages to send to her father and other soldiers. Friendly neighbors bring them food, help shovel the sidewalks and mow the lawn. Her church family prays every Sunday for the many soldiers, including Natalie’s father. When Natalie prays at bedtime, she tells Nana, “And don’t forget, God bless out troops.” E-mails and video chats with her Dad make things a little easier, but it still isn’t the same as having him home.
Why I like this book: Second Lady Jill Biden has written a sensitive book based on the experiences of her granddaughter, Natalie, when her father is deployed to Iraq. She chronicles Natalie’s life and the strong bond with her brother and mother, family, neighbors, church, school and community. Biden’s book is heartfelt and approachable for kids. Military children will quickly relate to Natalie and Hunter. Raúl Colón’s illustrations give a sense of tenderness and emotion as he uses soft watercolors and colored pencils to show for some very special moments in the story. This book belongs in every school library.
Resources: Jill Biden offers four detailed pages of back matter at the end of the book She includes an author’s note, information about the military, and tips for how children and adults can reach out to military families. She includes many creative ideas and projects for families and teachers to use this book at home and in the classroom. She also lists special resources and websites for military children and families.
Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.