Friday, June 10, 2011

Who’s in Charge?

One of the things I love most about Mitchell’s License by Hallie Durand, illustrated by Tony Fucile, is that the boy hero believes he is truly in the driver’s seat. The car (Dad) lets him pretty much steer their course. He plays along, and improvises a little (Dad makes the “VROOM!” noise when they “go fast,” and “BONK!” when they literally hit the wall). But when Mitchell tries to get away with something he knows he shouldn’t, Dad puts on the brakes.

In an interview with Hallie Durand and Tony Fucile, they both said they played similar games in their own households. Durand expanded on the “Remote-Control Dad” activity in their home, and Fucile often makes sound effects while bumping into walls (for effect only, no worries). The book joins the ranks of the few other father-child interactive games such as Pete’s a Pizza by William Steig and Jules Feiffer’s The Daddy Mountain. Durand said she was inspired by the “pizza” breaking into laughter in Steig’s book (“Pizzas are not supposed to laugh!” says the pizza-maker father) to have the “car” speak in Mitchell’s License. Now this book can be a jumping off point for you and your child to riff on the game yourselves.

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