CM . . .
. Volume XVI Number 36. . . .May 21, 2010
In the foreword to this book, Marny Duncan-Cary explains that the story is told from the point of view of a little boy who has never met his father.†It is based on the story of her own fatherís father, the authorís grandfather, who served in the Canadian Army during the Second World War and was away from his family for four years. While watching the events of 9-11, the author was struck by how many families would be facing the same kind of separation in the years to follow and, as a consequence, she wrote a song which eventually became this book.
The story is about how anxious and excited a little boy is when the father he's never met returns from the war. The anxious refrain is repeated throughout the book:
But the excitement the boy feels is also conveyed as the boy runs to see his dad, and yet, when he reaches the house, he creeps nervously into the kitchen.†The story is emotional, especially from a parent's perspective.
Megan Mansbridge's illustrations, consisting of mixed media including clay and oil on canvas, are beautiful and vibrant.†Because the book is based on a song with a repetitive refrain and not very many words, Mansbridge takes the opportunity to develop the story through the pictures.†For the first refrain, there is an illustration of the boy studying his face in the mirror, with a picture of his father in uniform, as the boy tries to see if he looks like his dad.† The second time the refrain occurs, there is an illustration of the father in his bunk, looking at pictures that have come in a letter from home.†In both of these illustrations, the pictures that the characters are examining are real photographs, and real photographs of people, as well as dog tags and service medals, are scattered throughout the book in the white space on the pages with text. The final refrain has illustrations of the father and son together, walking down their lane, and then the father carrying his son back towards home.
Included in the back of the book are the music and lyrics for the song, and a DVD including the song, a karaoke version of the song and more.
Who's That Man? would be a very good book to have in a library collection for Remembrance Day reading as it shows how war affects not only the soldiers, but also their families.
Lisa O'Hara is a librarian and mother of three in Winnipeg, MB.
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