On My Papa’s Shoulders

On My Papa’s Shoulders
Niki Daly
Otter-Barry Books

The little boy narrator in Niki Daly’s compelling picture book has just started school. He’s fortunate to have members of his extended family to take turns to walk with him through the busy town to the school gate.

Mama is a quick walker and so they always arrive in plenty of time for goodbye kisses before the bell rings. Gogo likes to leave early so the two of them can avoid the busy road and along the quiet way they find lots of look at and chat about, and perhaps even pause over.

Gogo is full of wise words, talking to her grandson about how he should be gentle with his friends.

Rainy days are reserved for Tata who is fond of puddle splashing, though his more easily tired legs mean he prefers the shortcuts and needs to pause for a rest en route – the perfect opportunity for a spot of whistling. In addition to whistling, hugs are Tata’s speciality.

“But the days I love the best are when Papa takes me to school.” That’s what our narrator tells us from his vantage point on Papa’s shoulders: it’s a place where he’d like to stay for ever but knows that when they reach the school gate that “I love you” exchange is coming and their parting will only be while Papa goes off to work on a building job while the little one joins his friends in the classroom for a spot of building of his own – make sure you look at his finished construction.

Yes this gorgeous, gently humorous book truly does celebrate that father/son bond, but it also celebrates the bond between the boy and the various other members of his family – each one offering something different.

One I’d strongly recommend adding to foundation stage collections and to family bookshelves, especially if there’s a child around the school starting age. Why not start by sharing it on Father’s Day this June.

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