Things my Pa told me by Anthony Bertini
Ill. by Jonathan Bentley. Little Hare, 2018. ISBN 9781760501426
(Ages: 3+) Highly recommended. Themes: Fathers and sons, Fathers' Day, Generations. An inviting stroll through an Italian village and surrounding countryside sees three generations walking and sharing stories. At first the lad can fit into a box, but soon he will have two front teeth and grow into the shoes he now wears that are so big and clumsy. He is afraid of the dark and doesn't like to hear dogs growl, but he is undaunted by the rain and everyone likes him.
Gently they tell the boy about what will happen when he is older, how being small is only a tiny part of his life, but all he learns then will carry with him into adulthood.
Each double page sees a wise word passed on. On one page the two older men are having a disagreement, but they counsel for anger to be quickly gone. On another page, the small boy is snuggling into his father's shoulder, surrounded by many large people, and he is told that soon he will be just as big.
The softly evocative illustrations by Bentley, now a Brisbane based illustrator and cartoonist, reveal the love between the men in the family. Generations of men pass on wisdom all the while watching over the lad seeing how he develops and grows, guiding him to develop the traits he will need as an older man.
Pages of pencil and watercolour illustrations show the boy trying different things, some dangerous, but always with his father and grandfather nearby. The last few pages remind us that time is fleeting as the men become older and eventually disappear from the boy's life. With their wisdom to guide him, he has no fear oft he future as they are always in his heart.
With Fathers' Day coming up, this is a beautiful evocation of the place a father has in a boy's upbringing, and readers will enjoy talking of the role of their father in their family.