Lucky me! Toni Buzzeo sent me the ARC of her new book, Just Like My Papa , that will be released next month. Illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka, who also illustrated Toni's Stay Close to Mama , the book is a beautiful peek into the life of a lion cub who wants to be just like his papa. I read it to my K-2's yesterday and today and they absolutely loved it. Even my antsiest babies sat still for this one! They laughed, they awwwwed, and they oooohed in all the right places.
I told them before I began reading that we were going to be book critics and that they were going to help me write a review. When I asked them their favorite parts, most of them wanted to say "I loved the whole book!" When I pinned them down to a favorite part, they liked it when Kito, the cub, and his papa played, when they roared, and when they went with the lionesses on a (failed) hunting trip.
One little girl said she thought it was pretty gross when they killed that wildebeest until I reminded her that the wildebeest got away. Then she had no complaints about the book! My favorite comment was when one first grader said she liked it because it was a love story. And it is! It's a beautifully illustrated love story between a son and his father.
Oh, yes, it has a great text-to-text connection with The Lion King and it would be a great addition to a unit on the savanna. And the children will identify with their own relationships with their fathers. Can you say Common Core??? Don't miss this one! Ages 3-7 32 pages 978-1423142638
Recommended by: Nancy Dickinson Librarian, and her K-2 students, Tennessee USA
With warmth and love Papa Lion shares his days and nights with precious
little Kito. As the moon appears, Kito learns that papa is the pride’s
protector who warns other animals away with his great “ROAAAAAR!”
Attempting to imitate his papa, Kito growls his biggest “grooooowl!” and
quickly learns he has scared nothing away. But he still feels safe as he
sleeps while papa keeps watch. In the heat of the day, Kito watches Papa
use his tail to sweep the bothersome flies away. So Kito does the same, but
finds he can’t shoo away the “*buzz buzz buzz*ing.”
But it isn’t always time for learning as Papa and Kito play a game familiar
to all dads and their offspring, “Do it again, Daddy.” This often involves
tossing the child into the air and catching them at the last minute, but
can be peek-a-boo, tickling or “got your nose.” Time with daddy is sweet
and children want it to go on forever.
As night approaches again, we see the pride go out for a hunt. Kito stays
with Papa awaiting the hunt results and practicing his moves. While the
hunt ultimately was unsuccessful, the role of the female lions is
dramatically presented. (An excellent place of intersection with
non-fiction books about lion societies.) And as the pride settles for the
night, Kito climbs onto Papa’s back and dreams of being “Just like my Papa.”
Here we have another winning title by children’s book author and former
Library Media Specialist Toni Buzzeo. It will resonate with parents and
children. The story line is comfortable and familiar because it portrays
how little boys long to be like dad and how fathers feel validated by a
The illustrations are gorgeous and warm, depicting differing times of day
from high noon to dusk to deepest night. The expressions of apprehension,
contentment, curiosity, seriousness and joy bring the characters,
especially Kito, to life. And the rendering of the savannah habitat is
another wonderful place to bring in a non-fiction connection.
This is a book to savor and enjoy, but will easily pair with non-fiction
books to increase student interest in and understanding of content area
material. The familiar format of narrative fiction can introduce the topic
which can lead students to explore the less familiar genre of non-fiction.
So, read it, enjoy it and/or teach it...this title works on every level.