Booklist - Papa's Backpack
Booklist (Jul 2015)
A young bear wishes it could travel along in its father’s backpack when Papa has to “go away for awhile.” The cub understands that Papa is a soldier and that he leaves in order to protect the cub. Maintaining a child’s perspective, the little bear expresses its sadness, imagines what the journeys are like for Papa, and then creates a miniature version of itself that really will fit in Papa’s backpack. For a child with a military parent, this story offers a thoughtful, poetic path toward expressing emotions. In this fantasy world, animals walk upright; carry sticks, not guns; and wear decorative feathers with sweaters and jackets, making the characters recognizable but not realistic. In swirling, rich colors, block-print-like illustrations add to the mystical effect. In one double-page spread, a group of animals walk along, heading toward conflict, on top of a land foundation inscribed with “Mother-Father-Daughter-Son-Sister-Brother.” The emphasis on family ties is powerful, echoing the bear cub’s wish to stay connected to Papa. Comfortingly rhythmic language and expressive images combine to create a memorable narrative.