Family Bookshelf: Hurray for Dads

Two new books celebrating Father's Day feature big cuddly bears. When grumbly Baby Bear refuses to kiss his dad good-night, Daddy Bear starts up the nightly ritual known as Kisses for Daddy (Little Hare Books, $15.95; ages 2 to 6). Reenacting how other animal dads kiss good-night, Daddy gets his tot up the stairs and through the whole bath routine before finally exchanging not just a big bear kiss - but a big bear hug! Frances Watts' story charms, and David Legge's bears glow with expression.

Another ritual - that of hoping Baby's first word will be Daddy, Mommy, Nana, etc. - unfurls in Say Daddy! (Sleeping Bear, $15.95; ages 2 to 6). Author Michael Shoulders adds a clever twist by having each relative - soft-focus, pastel bears by artist Teri Weidner - lovingly reading a book as they're trying to coax out baby's first word. So the baby bear's first love turns out to be books - hurray! Daddy, though, can't quite quit: "Now, say Daddy!"

Being "the greatest dad there's ever been!" is the heart's desire of Lizzie's impractical, even slightly addled dad in the British import, My Dad's a Birdman (Candlewick, $15.99; ages 8 to 12). The quirky characters and plot are worthy of Roald Dahl (a Great Human Bird Competition is involved), and David Almond's humorous chapter book would make a delightful family read-aloud - plus it definitely highlights an over-the-top dad. Polly Dunbar's pencil and watercolor illustrations keep the story whizzing along.

And in the ideal gift for dads themselves, The Dads' Book: For the Dad Who's Best at Everything (Scholastic, $9.95), Michael Heatley indeed tackles it all - from how to change a diaper to how to teach your teen to drive, with snappy patter and some 40 fun things to do in between.

Check out more family-friendly reading suggestions at Family Book Shelf Archives.

- Kathleen Krull