Reviews for Knock Knock : My Dad's Dream for Me

Booklist Reviews 2013 November #1
Every morning a boy and his father play a game: "KNOCK KNOCK," says papa, and the boy pretends to be asleep, before jumping into his father's arms. Then one morning papa doesn't come anymore. Collier's gorgeous watercolor and collages begin with rich hues and joyful light on the beginning pages and turn somber and dark as the boy realizes his father is gone for good. Buildings, fabric patterns and wood grains, photographs, and torn paper are delightfully complex, framing the emotional painterly portrayals of a sad and disappointed boy. Children can follow the tromping paisley elephants and paper airplanes as well as papa's signature hat as the boy grows up and finds happiness. In a rare topic for younger children, Beaty explores the theme of permanent separation from a parent (it could be prison, death, or abandonment). The desire for guidance encountering life's experiences is told from a small child's point of view with candor, as well as hope, as he ends quoting papa's advice to "KNOCK KNOCK down the doors that I could not." Copyright 2013 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2014 Spring
Each morning, a little boy pretends to be asleep until his dad approaches. "Then I...jump into his arms." One day, his father fails to appear. The author's note explains that Beaty's own father was incarcerated; in the book, the absence is unexplained for a more universal story of loss. The text, powerful and spare, is well supported by Collier's watercolor and collage art.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2013 #6
Each morning, a little boy looks forward to playing the knock-knock game with his father. The boy pretends to be asleep until his dad approaches. "Then I get up and jump into his arms." One day, though, and for every day after, the boy's father fails to appear. The appended author's note explains that Beaty's own father was incarcerated. In the book, though, the absence is not explained, which makes it a more universal story of loss. A letter from his father helps shore the boy up. The poignant words "as long as you become your best, the best of me still lives in you" let him know his father loves him, even though he is absent. The text, powerful and spare, is well supported by Collier's watercolor and collage art, which is filled with repeating motifs: elephants for memory, a paper airplane careening, the father's hat, rainbows and balloons, children's eager faces, even the Duke Ellington Memorial to signify the little boy's dream. Though the boy is bereft of a father, he is cared for and loved. His room is filled with toys and books. His mother and, later on, his wife are there to support him and help him move forward. There is a lot going on here, but there is a lot going on in the mind of any child who has been denied a parent, for whatever reason. In this book they will find comfort and inspiration. robin l. smit Copyright 2013 Horn Book Magazine.

Kirkus Reviews 2013 November #1
A heartfelt effort to transform Beaty's celebrated monologue into a picture book undermines the source material's power, despite the contributions of Collier's stunning collage-and-watercolor artwork. A father and son play "KNOCK KNOCK" every morning, Papa knocking on the door to awaken him and the boy jumping into his arms. Both picture book and monologue open with this recollection and then reflect on the boy's profound loss when his beloved father is suddenly gone; but while the latter text explains that this is due to the father's incarceration, in picture-book form, his absence is unexplained until an author's note in the backmatter. Not only is this potentially confusing and alarming, it also robs the text of one of its most powerful elements: when the boy visits his father in prison and must "KNOCK KNOCK" on the glass between them. In the monologue, Beaty says that he had to learn to father himself and give himself the words his father didn't give to him. In this adaptation, the boy's mysteriously absent father writes a loving letter filled with fatherly advice, but it omits the monologue's lines about fighting poverty and racism and not allowing a father's choices to define the child. Absent the critical back story, this picture book feels incomplete. A valiant effort that falls short of its source's fearless honesty and passion. (Picture book. 4-8) Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2013 October #2

Beaty's spoken-word performance about a childhood lived in the shadow of incarceration can be seen online, and its impact is powerful. This print version, meant for a younger audience, is gentler but equally affecting. Collier's (Fifty Cents and a Dream) watercolor collages capture the sadness of a thoughtful African-American boy whose father disappears and whose mother will not say where he has gone. The "knock knock" of the title stands for the game played by the boy and his father in happier times: "He goes knock knock on my door, and I pretend to be asleep till he gets right next to the bed." But when his father disappears, "the knock never comes." The boy writes to his father, but lets the letter sit instead of sending it; eventually, his father writes to him, turning "knock knock" into a symbol of possibility: "Knock knock down the doors that I could not." By sharing his experience, explained in an afterword, Beaty lends his voice to children struggling with the absence of a parent and the grief that goes with it. Ages 3-6. Illustrator's agent: Marcia Wernick, Wernick & Pratt. (Dec.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2013 October

K-Gr 3--Beaty tells a poignant, heart-wrenching tale of love, loss, and hope. A boy narrates how every morning he and his father play the Knock Knock game. He feigns sleep while his father raps on the door until the boy jumps into his dad's arms for a hug and an "I love you." One day, there is no knock. Left with his mother, the child deeply misses his papa and writes to him for advice, receiving a moving letter in return. Collier's watercolor and collage illustrations enhance the nuanced sentiment of the text. Following the protagonist's journey from a grief-stricken child to an accomplished strong adult, the lifelike images intermingle urban and domestic backgrounds with the symbolic innerscape of the narrator. As the boy writes the letter and tosses paper airplanes out the window, he glides out on a life-size paper plane expressing his plea, "Papa, come home, 'cause there are things I don't know, and when I get older I thought you could teach me." Author's and illustrator's notes at the end of the book elaborate on the personal meaning of this eloquent story that speaks especially to children who are growing up in single-parent homes.--Yelena Alekseyeva-Popova, formerly at Chappaqua Library, NY

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