My Dad is a Grizzly Bear by Swapna Haddow and Dapo Adeola

There are plenty of picture books around about dads, but none quite like My Dad is a Grizzly Bear. This is a celebration of a loving family, wrapped up in an entertaining story that will have both kids and adults chuckling.

The boy in the story tries to convince us that his dad is a grizzly bear. His dad has the fuzziest fur, gives sloppy kisses and growls while he chases. He loves honey so much that he eats every drop in the house, he naps all the time and he’s grumpy and grumbly when he wakes up. He might be all of these things but there is no one better at giving the biggest, warmest bear hugs.

My Dad is a Grizzly Bear is an absolute joy to read and it makes me smile every time I look at it. Swapna and Dapo are a dream team, who have created a picture book that is a pleasure for the ears and the eyes. It is one of those stories that works on different levels. Kids and adults will each enjoy different aspects of it, with adults appreciating the familiar aspects of family life.

Swapna’s story flows really well and is full of lots of wonderful language. There is a tone of annoyance at some of the things the boy’s dad does, but he also points out the amazing things that his dad can do, like running fast to catch the bus or catching fish in his teeth. Dapo’s illustrations are sublime and they’re the perfect match for Swapna’s story. They’re so bright and full of fun. Dapo really capture’s both how much the boy is annoyed by his dad and how much he adores him. He has perfectly captured the love that the family has for each other. I love the personality that Dapo has given the dad (especially the cool clothes that he wears) and the way that he makes the dad look like a grizzly bear, while also keeping his dad-ness. My favourite part of the story is when the dad wanders off into the woods, with his torch and his roll of toilet paper, ‘perhaps he was looking for his friends.’

This is a beautifully designed picture book too. It’s hardcover, with a bright cover that captures the joy, and it has the best endpapers that I’ve seen for a while (pink with big pineapples, just like the dad’s swim shorts on the front cover).

My Dad is a Grizzly Bear is a picture book that will be enjoyed again and again. I’ve read it multiple times with my family and I know it will be a winner with many of the classes that I’ll read it to at my school.

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