Just Like My Papa
Publication Date: April 2, 2013
Other Editions of This Title: Paperback
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Kito wants to be just like his papa, the protector of the pride. Throughout a day and night on the savanna, the cub imitates the way his father roars, swings his tail, shakes his head, and pounces. Kito may be too little to catch a wildebeest, but he is brave enough to succeed in his own hunt. Someday he will be King, just like Papa.
With its rhythmic text, dramatic moments on the African plain, and playful times for cub and papa, this book will make a perfect read-aloud for family sharing.
Toni Buzzeo (www.tonibuzzeo.com) is a children's book author and reviewer and retired school library media specialist. She speaks at national, state, and regional library and reading conferences and does author visits at schools across the country. Her most recent books are Stay Close to Mama, a companion to this book, and the New York Times best-selling One Cool Friend, ilustrated by David Small. Her book Dawdle Duckling, illustrated by Margaret Spengler, was a Children's Book of the Month Club selection and a Dolly Parton Imagination Library selection. No T. Rex in the Library was one of five books featured in Cheerios boxes in Fall 2010. She divides her time between a colonial farmhouse in Buxton, Maine, and a home near the ocean in Sarasota, Florida.
Mike Wohnoutka (www.mikewohnoutka.com) grew up in Spicer, Minnesota. His dad, an engineer, would bring home reams of paper with highway plans on one side. Mike filled the blank side of the sheets with drawings of race cars, snowmobiles, baseball players, super heroes-everything he was interested in. In high school his art teacher encouraged him to pursue art as a career. He graduated from the Savannah College of Art and Design with a B.F.A. in illustration. Mike has published books with Random House, Dutton, Clarion, and Holiday House. He enjoys visiting schools and talking to students about illustrating children's books. He currently resides in Minneapolis with his wife and two children.
As with Buzzeo's Stay Close to Mama (2012), the African savanna is the setting here, but this time we meet Kito, a young male lion cub who imitates his father and wants to grow up to be a lion king just like him. Kito is quite content to stay near his papa. When Papa roars, Kito growls; when Papa sleeps, Kito sleeps; when Papa swats flies with his tail, Kito tries (and fails); and when Papa has had enough, Kito lies in the tall grass. Just as with human parents and their children, Papa teaches and guides Kito even during their play times. The personification of the lions allows the love between father and son to radiate throughout both the text and the luscious full-page colored illustrations. Buzzeo concludes with a brief note about lions. The book's large format and rich, rhythmic language make it a good candidate for reading aloud to a group. At the same time, its quiet nature makes for a good one-on-one sharing, too.- J. B. Petty—Booklist Online
PreS-K This companion to Stay Close to Mama (Hyperion, 2012) chronicles a day in the life of an adult male lion and his son. Though anthropomorphized, many details of life on the savannah shine forth in the simple, lyrical prose. Kito, the young cub of the king of the pride, narrates with the refrain, "Just like my papa, the King." After a playful, restful afternoon under an acacia tree, the action and atmosphere climax in a twilight hunt of wildebeest. Before a vast sun-swept landscape, "Papa stands and gives his dark brown mane a fearsome shake. He follows the lionesses to the hunt. Kito shakes his little head. He sneaks off after Papa. I will hunt, too. Just like my papa, the King." What makes this title work is the blend of factual information about a pride's habitat and behavior with the compelling, personal narrative of a son following his father's footsteps and winning his respect. The acrylic illustrations are larger than life and show the expanses of the savannah but remain warm and kid-friendly, especially in the lions' depth of expression, ranging from curiosity to impatience, from concern to pride. The pacing is superb, with the right amount of drama for the youngest readers yet awash with reassuring paternal love and care for young Kito. An author's note briefly describes the social interactions of a pride. Sara Lissa Paulson, The American Sign Language and English Lower School, New York City—SLJ
Buzzeo and Wohnoutka (Stay Close to Mama, 2012) pair up again, this time taking a closer look at the loving dynamic between a lion and his mischievous cub on the African savanna. Papa is "the protector and King" as he roars "a warning across the plain." Young Kito (Swahili for "precious gem") wants to be just like his father; after all, someday he will also be king. Throughout the day he growls, dodges a laughing hyena, attempts to swat flies with "his little golden tail" and waits with instinctual anticipation as the lionesses target a wildebeest on an evening hunt. Always he is at his dad's side. A playful spread set against all white shows Papa "with a swipe of his huge paw send[ing] Kito flying through the air, like a stork gliding on the breeze." A tender nighttime spread of Kito on his father's back tells of him raking "his paw gently through his papa's mane." Children and their parents will appreciate this intimate look at this wild feline pair. Although presented as a charming story about a specific lion cub, the descriptive facts provided about lion prides are accurate and later expanded upon in a note at the book's end. The warm and reassuring flow of the text coupled with the dramatic painterly scenes of the African landscape come together for a likable tale just in time for Father's Day. (Picture book. 3-6)—Kirkus