With Father’s day around the corner, I had the opportunity to review these three titles from Chronicle Books for the upcoming holiday: Handy Dad by Todd Davis, Dear Dad ed. by Geoff Blackwell and Memento by Michael McQueen. Each title is a different take on how to present peculiarities of fatherhood in an entertaining and thought provoking format. Handy Dad was my favorite because the project ideas were things that I would want to build for my little girl that is on the way.
Handy Dad was written in a very easy-to-access format. I don’t know how manly it is to read cookbooks but if you have read or looked at one in the past ten years, then you know the format this book is published in. The trend has been to add stories and explanations to the standard recipes so that you feel more “connected” to the author. Todd takes this “cookbook” of at home projects and fleshes out some pretty creative ideas. He really filled in more than just the standard treehouse or playhouse although there are one of each in the book. I liked the diagram layout and each of the ideas, even the really hard ones, were broken into doable chunks. I could tell that he used a lot of his experience on his TV shows, he is the host of HGTV’s Over Your Head and from the Design Star competition, to format these projects into a style that can be accessible to a wide spectrum of dads and not just the professional carpenters.
Dear Dad was an entertaining read and not just because it had very little words…. This book is a compilation of pictures that were part of the M.I.L.K project, “a global photographic competition which started in 1999. The M.I.L.K Project was not only the richest in photographic history, but also one of the most significant, drawing participation from 17,000 professional and amateur photographers in 164 countries.”(Publication email I received) It was really cool to see how fatherhood translated to different areas of the globe. Throughout the pictures I could see that common thread of pride and joy in the fathers’ eyes and disposition that I think you can only understand if you are a father or are going to be soon. Nice coffee table book or even a good meditation aid for those that use images to center their thoughts.
Finally, Memento, ended up being a “un-book” because it is a journal and written personal history aid. Michael McQueen designed a pretty cool book all together. I appreciated the thoughtfulness of the journal passage questions and family tree section. I could see where this could be a really cool gift to leave behind to your kids if when you leave this world; it can really flesh out exactly what your core values and beliefs are and give your kids a chance to get to know you better on a deeper level than “you’re my dad” level. This work was inspired by Michael’s dad leaving his journal behind after a sudden heart attack and giving Michael a chance to know the man behind his dad. This book would be a good gift for a dad looking for a cool way to give his kids his memoir and communicate his values at the same time.
Chronicle did a good job with these titles and I appreciated the variety in the titles. Hopefully you can find something in The Father Life either in this review or others to help make your Dad’s day a happy and cool one.
Chris Weber is a school liaison. He and his wife make their home in Azle, TX.