My Baba is the best by Bachar Houli. Illus. by Debby Rahmalia

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A wonderful story about the strong relationship between a father and his daughters is presented by former AFL player, Bachar Houli. The young girl tells us about what she does with her father: a strong, bearded man who loves to be always active and doing something. He gives the best hugs, and the three are often in their backyard, keeping fit, the young girl trailing him with her bicycle as he runs. He takes the girls fishing, one of his favourite leisure activities. She has her own rod and needs help in reeling in the fish. The family sometimes go to the movies, but even better is staying home to watch a film together with a large bucket of butter popcorn. At night Baba comes into their room to pray with them as they go to bed, asking for protection while they sleep. Excitement is in the air as they prepare to go camping, the young girl writing a list of what they need to take. On the way she feels carsick and so must sit in the front seat with Baba! Once there, they put up their tent and prepare wood for the evening fire, making sure they each have a good stick on which to toast the marshmallows.

Each activity is shown as a collaborative effort within the family, underlining its strength and durability, recognising the special bond between fathers and daughters.

At night they play card games with the help of their head torches, and go to bed watching a kangaroo that comes to inspect their campsite.

A loving look at the father-daughter bond just in time for Father’s Day in September, is a delight. Smiling happy faces beam out from every page as they do so many thing together. Kids will love recognising the things they do with their fathers, and tell stories of what makes their father the best.

Indonesian artist, Debby Rahmalia gives a wonderful authenticity to the portrayal of a Muslim family, with the visit to the mosque, their participation in Eid after Ramadan, their visits to relatives after Friday prayers and the family prayers at night. Readers will be eager to find out the meanings of some of the unfamiliar words which dot the story, but finding that the family presented is not that much different from their own.

Themes: Family, Fathers, Father-daughter relationships, Muslim families, Camping, AFL, Mosque, Eid Ramadan.

Fran Knight