Our Daddy Is Invincible!
Our Daddy Is Invincible! deals with a subject most of us prefer not to think about: What happens to their children when a parent is injured while deployed . . . and then comes home?
Most children of picture book age still believe that their parents will be around forever, that they will always be able to handle any crisis that comes up, that they are the most capable people in every way—and that they will always remain so. But when a parent leaves and then comes back both physically and emotionally changed, the sense of security derived from those beliefs are severely challenged. And foremost in a child’s mind is always: What’s going to happen to me? How will Mommy or Daddy take care of me now?
It’s too scary a thought for most children to ponder, if they ever do. But the children of those who return from the killing fields maimed and scarred must confront the reality that their parent has changed. Our Daddy Is Invincible! provides a simple, direct, soothing message to children of war survivors: Yes, things will be different in many ways—some of which we will be unable to predict—but life will go on. And most importantly, the injured parent will always continue to love and care for the child to the best of his or her ability—sometimes with the help of an army of caregivers.
In other words, it’s all going to change—but love remains no matter what.
Written by a woman whose husband returned from Iraq with severe brain trauma, Our Daddy Is Invincible! covers a tough subject in a way that little children ages 3 and up will appreciate for its straightforward lack of complexity and its reassuring tone, supported by illustrations that more than complement the text—they add to the tenderness by showing the ways in which promises of parental love are kept and sustained despite tremendous challenges to the entire family.
While the book would have greatly benefited from a keen copyedit—two spaces after periods are found throughout and punctuation errors abound, making it give off a whiff of the self-published and unedited—the content is such that one must look past these errors and into the intent and purpose of the book.
The illustrations though are more difficult to ignore. Amateurish and simply weird, with overly judicious use of heavy black line throughout and muddy, indeterminate colors, they look like Polaroids that got left in a pants pocket and were mistakenly run through the washing machine. But again, the content of Our Daddy Is Invincible! is important enough for us to look beyond appearances and hope that maybe this book will prove important enough to warrant a re-illustration upon reprint.
The end of the book offers real letters from other children whose parents were injured and survived, each accompanied by a photograph of them with the parent in question. A section addressed to adults explains the origins of the book in more detail. And there’s even a hidden butterfly search game à la Where’s Waldo? to encourage children and their parents to go back and reread the book.
A courageous and necessary book, Our Daddy Is Invincible! should be carried by every library in the country—and it deserves a translation into every language in which the word war exists and is, unfortunately, practiced.