Philip Bunting: Wild About Dads

Illustrated by the author

Published by Little Hare, Hardie Grant Children’s Publishing, 2020

If you know someone who is about to become a father, or if you are thinking about your own father, or even if you are wondering about what attributes make a father particularly good in that role, then pick up this book, buy it or borrow it, and enjoy reflecting on all the shapes, sizes and ways of being a dad.

There is a lot to be learnt from animals in the wild and the way they naturally and inherently behave. Philip Bunting has picked out a few species and highlighted the best behaviours that fathers can model.

Did you know that gorilla dads teach their babies how to find food, play and look after each other? A desert dwelling sandgrouse makes a big effort to keep his offspring well hydrated by dropping water into their mouths from his water-soaked feathers. The giant water bug has the responsibility of carrying the eggs, laid on top of his back by his dear lady, for weeks until they hatch. Flamingo fathers regurgitate food for their baby chicks, sounds gross, but not if you are the baby flamingo chick! The Australian magpie is well known for defending the nest of his young by swooping on anyone or anything that comes too close. Chinstrap penguin fathers have even been known to team up and incubate abandoned eggs, help them hatch and grow into maturity.

The lesson we learn from all these examples is that dads can come in all shapes and sizes, temperaments, and skills. All of them show their children how to live, by action and deed. Whether you are a father, mother, grandmother, grandfather, sister or brother, in a family of any description, we can all benefit from this simple concept, that sometimes our love is better expressed by doing than by saying.

Most animals in this picture book have their own page and colour palette, and some lucky ones are illustrated across a double page spread. All critters are easily identifiable, the text is short but informative, and there are a few humorous asides on some pages, making it hugely accessible and interesting for younger and older readers.

I can highly recommend this picture book for children 3-8 years and below are more suggestions for some of my favourite picture books about fathers:

My Dad Thinks He’s Funny
by Katrina Germein
Illustrated by Tom Jellett

Guess How Much I Love You
by Sam McBratney
Illustrated by Anita Jeram

I Love My Daddy
by Giles Andreae
Illustrated by Emma Dodd

Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me
by Eric Carle

Owl Moon by Jane Yolen
Illustrated by John Schoenherr

Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale by Mo Willems

Can’t You Sleep, Little Bear?
by Martin Waddell
Illustrated by Barbara Firth

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt
by Michael Rosen
Illustrated by Helen Oxenbury

Mitchell’s License by Hallie Durand Illustrated by Tony Fucile

The Big Honey Hunt
by Stan & Jan Berenstain

My Dad is Brilliant
by Nick Butterworth

Mister Seahorse by Eric Carle

Nelly Gnu and Daddy Too
by Anna Dewdney

My Dad Used to be So Cool
by Keith Negley

Father Bear Comes Home
by Else Holmelund Minarik Illustrated by Maurice Sendak

My Daddy is a Giant by Carl Norac Illustrated by Ingrid Godon

My Dad by Anthony Browne

Molly and Her Dad by Jan Ormerod Illustrated by Carol Thompson

Now One Foot, Now the Other
by Tomie dePaola

Every Friday by Dan Yaccarino

My Dad by Jeanette Rowe

Sam and his Dad by Serge Bloch

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