My Dad Used to Be so Cool
by Keith Negley

As children it can be hard for us to believe that our parents ever had lives before we came along. Even as an adult I can’t quite picture the younger versions of my mum and dad in full colour – he on a scooter with hair to his waist and she in a Mary Quant dress, twirling the night away at the local ‘Palais de Danse’.  That’s why this book, about a dad who used to be a rock star, is so much fun!

The little boy in the story has heard that his dad used to be cool, but he’s really not so sure. As he watches him fold the washing, vacuum the study and tie his shoe laces he wonders what on earth happened. His dad was in a rock band and now he’s just dad. He thinks something massive must have occurred to bring about this change but he can’t work out what!

But as they move through the day together – playing in the park, splashing in the waves and singing in the car – the boy sees flashes of the person his father once was and he realises that actually his dad is still pretty cool, just in a slightly different way.

The illustrations are bright and bold and there are lots of lovely details hidden away in the pictures which hint at the dad’s personality.

I love the visual representation of the father here as it’s not one which we commonly see in picture books. So often they are shown as bland, secondary characters but this dad is painted in vivid colour complete with tattoos and (at one point) a mohican.

The story has encouraged Ivy to ask me questions about what I was like when I was younger. As a result she’s heard a lot about my love of Cabbage Patch Kids and The Magic Faraway Tree, but I think i’ll keep the university stories until she’s a tiny bit older…!

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