Fathers teach us, nurture us, befriend us, guide us. Sometimes they also change the world.
Gianna Floyd, daughter of George Floyd, understood this truth. When she said that "Daddy changed the world," her words "encapsulated a six-year-old's awareness of the lasting imprint her father's life would make," writes Leah Henderson in her Author's Note accompanying this book.
Gianna's wise words about her father's senseless and brutal murder inspired Henderson to explore the bonds children and fathers share. She's joined in this effort by acclaimed illustrator E.B. Lewis, whose vivid pictures reflect his own experience raising Black sons.
The book travels full circle from the moment a father lifts his baby, barely larger than his strong hands, into the air, saying, "Shh, baby bird, I've got you" to when he teaches love to a teenager, saying: "Speak your mind, baby bird, and remember — I've got you." The pages in between show a multitude of ways in which father speak love: answering countless questions, serving as companions on adventures, accepting mistakes, providing comfort and protection, demanding equality.
Henderson also brings in some of the tough-love issues critical to face, such as:
This world isn't always fair.
This world isn't always kind.
And this you'll need to know."
She notes that fathers speak of the future "and of history's long, long past, for Black lives to matter, for compassion, and change that will last." The accompanying illustration shows a banner of George Floyd's face and the word "CHANGE," with a young girl adding her part to a memorial below, made of flowers, notes, and a teddy bear.
The emphasis on unity, pride, and speaking out is carefully balanced with simpler, more personal matters, from tea parties and painting fingernails to giggle fests and banishing monsters. Four to eight years olds will find in this book mirrors of their own experience, aspiration for who they can become, and a wider understanding how to build a more compassionate and just world.