Review: Going Down Home With Daddy

Going Down Home With Daddy
Author: Kelly Starling Lyons
Illustrator: Daniel Minters
Peachtree Publishing
Ages: 4 to 8 years old, Grades PK to 3

When we go down home with Daddy, everything we see holds a piece of him and us. We head up the highway thinking about family and dreaming about next year.
–Kelly Starling Lyons

I’ve never experienced a family reunion. My family is scattered to the wind. When my parents emigrated from Cuba, years before Fidel Castro came to power, they left behind the bulk of our family; and, like seeds from a dandelion flower, floated gently until they settled in the United States. I have a large family. I just don’t know most of them. And, I never see them.

Books like Lyons’ Going Down Home With Daddy, are a mystery to me. A dad piles his family into a car and they drive down home to see great-grandma Granny and share in an amazing anniversary celebration where everybody shares something personal. Sounds amazing. And it is!

Lyons has given me the opportunity to attend a family reunion, like one I’ve never experienced. Her characters come alive on the page, even in a scant picture book setting. We are visiting Daddy’s family, at the family home where the land stretches as far as the eye can see. With nothing more than a couple of sentences each, sometimes a single sentence, Lyons has the ability to define a character so clearly in your mind, that you can hear him as you read.

‘Got a head just like your daddy,’ Uncle Jay teases me.

Daddy’s eyes twinkle. ‘Now I know you’re not talking about heads.’

‘Can’t take them anywhere.’ Grandma Loretta says laughing.

Going Down Home With Daddy

Lyons’ ear for dialogue is exceptional. Her dialogue rings true to life and immerses you in the family gathering–from the gentle ribbing between cousins to the laughing and giggling that is easily present at a family reunion. There is, a poetic nature to her prose, that shimmers in the details she provides. Take for instance:

‘Cotton for the quilts Granny made to keep her children warm,’ I say holding a white cloud in my fingers.

‘A pecan for the trees Pa planted and all of the kids love to climb.’

I pinch dirt and let it rain to the ground. ‘And earth for land that’s ours as far as we can see.’

Going Down Home With Daddy

Minter’s illustrations are breathtaking and resemble a cross between vibrant watercolors and hard line paintings. They are masterful, employing a bright yellow and mellow blue palette reminiscent of southern jazz. It is no wonder that Minter received a Caldecott Honor for his illustrations of this book. The devil is in the details and Minter spares none, brandishing interesting patterns where you wouldn’t expect them and layering layer upon layer of soft tones to enhance gorgeous backgrounds.

This is a unique book. You get a peek into the lives of a multi-generational family and experience the bond between father and son. Gorgeous, poetic prose and beautiful illustrations. What more could you possibly want?

Going Down Home With Daddy (Support a Local Bookstore)
Going Down Home With Daddy (Hardcover at Amazon)*

More books for this Age Group can be found here.

Please, leave comments! I love a HEALTHY exchange of ideas. After all, critical thinking is essential to life.

My thanks to Peachtree Publishing for providing a complimentary copy of this book. The views expressed herein are my own.

*As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

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