CM . . .
. Volume XXII Number 10. . . .November 6, 2015
In The Bureau of Misplaced Dads, author Éric Veillé and illustrator Pauline Martin team up to create a highly imaginative and refreshingly original picture book that is overflowing with humorous absurdity from cover to cover. When a young boy accidentally misplaces his father, the search for the father’s whereabouts begins. Visiting the “Bureau of Misplaced Dads” where all seemingly lost or unclaimed fathers stay until successfully located by their sons, the young boy searches amongst an eclectic array of fathers in hopes of locating his own. As the boy wanders the halls and rooms of the bureau, he is introduced to a multitude of dads, each of whom embodies his own unique persona and characteristics. Although the boy is offered the opportunity to adopt a father in place of his own, he instantly declines and continues to remain true to his quest to locate his real dad. Surprisingly, not even “super dad” or “dancing dad” can effectively serve as a substitute for the beloved paternal figure he has misplaced. A clever conclusion sees the young boy delighted in a moment of revelation as he suddenly recalls where his dad was last seen and quickly ventures home to be reunited with him.
Veillé and Martin’s witty portrayal of the odd assortment of dads is highly comical, and children will unquestionably be entertained by their eccentric appearances, laughable identities, and bizarre choices of leisurely past times. The potpourri of animated facial expressions on the fathers at the bureau are truly a highlight of the story, and children will surely find amusement in identifying which dad most closely resembles their own both in mannerism and outward appearance.
For some younger audiences, the portrayal of certain characters may be perceived as less than friendly, such as the rather sinister looking dad popping out of a box while clasping kitchen utensils. Discussion about the book’s humorous intent should be conveyed to younger readers prior to interacting with the content in order to avoid any unexpected negative reactions to such illustrations.
The relatively minimal use of text throughout the book is a positive feature as it draws the reader’s eye directly to the lively artwork. Ingeniously inserted into the story are two short wordless sequences that capture the reader’s full attention while also encouraging individual interpretations that are free from textual influences. These sequences are included at a critical location in the plot where the young boy is seen at his most distraught. Thanks to some spontaneous and creative wittiness, the assembly of dads is able to bring a smile back to the boy’s face by breaking out into a series of energetic acrobatic stunts and fun filled dance movements.
This lighthearted story, which offers a creative twist on the traditional storyline that most commonly sees a parent searching for a missing child, is a charming treat for youthful and adult imaginations alike. The nonsensicality of Veillé and Martin’s quirky and perplexing bureau will undoubtedly inspire frequent revisits by readers.
Christina Quintiliani is an Ontario Certified Teacher and Ph.D. Candidate researching children’s literature at the Faculty of Education, Brock University, St. Catharines, ON.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.