by Dan Yaccarino
Henry Holt 2007
Every Friday and boy and his dad trundle down to the diner in town to have breakfast together. Rain or shine, they stop and window shop along the way (each of the boys has their favorite shop window, toys for each), waving at shopkeepers and strangers along the clean city streets. Once at the diner they order breakfast ("Let me guess, pancakes" says the waitron) and talk and continue their people-watching. Their ritual complete the boy cannot wait until next week to do it all again.
Yaccarino explains in a note at the front of the book that it is based on a routine he and his son follow. I suspect the actual event is more substantial than the slim story treatment it is given because we are given only the outward appearances of the ritual. As an idea the author encourages, taking a child out for a special ritual like a weekly breakfast can be a great thing. I only wish it were more possible than the mere suggestion that parents try to do the same. I think of all the families I know, how difficult it is just to get everyone out the door and on their way in the morning, and I don't think I know a single family who could add such a ritual. The sheer logistics of it, the amount of extra time it would take in the morning, isn't practical. And forget it if you have more than one child and have to deal with the parity issue. Even saying it like that makes me feel like I'm a bad parent for not figuring out a way to add an extra hour or so to the morning routine. What parent wants to feel like that after reading a book?
Logistics aside, the idea of hanging out with a parent over breakfast talking and people watching would have greatly benefited from a little more show and a little less tell. What do the boy and his father talk about? What have they learned about the regulars they see on their walks each week, what sort of things do they see while people watching? It's all very well and good to talk a good game but sometimes you need to see how the game is played, especially with kids. Modalities of learning and all that.
Visually it hearkens back to a sort of 1950's nostalgia that is difficult to replicate today. Valiant effort but it left me wanting.