Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Hey Daddy! Animal Fathers and their Babies

Hey Daddy! Animal Fathers and their Babies

Mary Batten
Illustrator:  Higgins Bond 
Picture Book
For ages 5 to 8
Peachtree, 2002   ISBN: 978-1561452729

Anyone who has ever watched a harried and surely exhausted pair of birds raising a nest of chicks knows that there are some wonderful fathers in the animal kingdom. In this fascinating and informative book the reader will find the stories of some of the most extraordinary and remarkable animal fathers. There are several species of bird where the father takes care of the eggs and then the baby birds all by himself. This is no mean feat when one thinks of all the possible hazards that the poor fathers face. The eggs can freeze or get too hot. There are plenty of predators that would be happy to eat a little chick for dinner. To get around the problem of watching the eggs all the time some animal fathers have taken to carrying them about. The father giant waterbug carries his eggs on his back. To keep his babies safe the Darwin frog keeps his tadpoles safe in his vocal sac for about fifty-two days. During this time the tadpoles turn into little frogs and their long suffering father has to forgo eating for a while until his young are ready to face the big world their own.

There is even one father who has really taken the whole parenting business a step further. The seahorse father is the one who gives birth and not the mother. Many mammal fathers are vital to the survival of their young, and in different species they have developed different strategies to suit the environment, the needs of the animal, and their social organization. That great king of the jungle and highland, the mountain gorilla, is well known to be a good father and tolerant babysitter.

Whatever role these parenting fathers take, they are a fundamentally important to the survival of their young and to the future of their species.