Every once and a while, I read a book that surprises me by how much I like it. John Flannery and Steven Weinberg’s Beard Boy does just that.
When Kiersten brought Beard Boy back from the library, I knew she got the book for me to read to Maddox. I mean, I’ve had a beard since I could grow one, probably 16 or 17 years. My kids have no idea what I look like without one. So I was expecting this book to be about how much the main character, Ben, wanted to be and grow his beard, just like his father. What I found inside was a sneaky good book that covers a lot of issues of the modern family.
I love the way John Flannery, the author, uses language that relates to men around my age. Flannery uses words like “boss” and “bodaciously” to make the reading experience fun for adults. He also uses a ton of alliteration, which always trips me up when I read. But the real kicker is the subtle examples of modern society. Flannery nonchalantly mentions that Bobby has two Dads, something that definitely wouldn’t have been touched in books when I was growing up. But the way he just puts it out there like it’s no big deal, which I believe it isn’t, helps create a more tolerant society for our children to grow up in. We’re starting to see more and more TV shows, commercials, and now books delve into these topics, especially since the US Supreme Court’s ruling last year allowing same sex marriage in all 50 states. Having our kids grow up with these issues help them accept people no matter what preferences or backgrounds they have. I think that’s fantastic.
The illustrator, Steven Weinberg, also does a great job of creating a cohesive narrative through his pictures. His illustrations show us that everybody can have a beard, regardless of race, religion, nationality, or even sex (even if it was a bit of a joke). It may sound silly, but beards can help create tolerance just because of this. Tattoos are another feature that makes this book so modern. You walk around today and you are most certain to see someone with a tattoo. Male or female, tattoos are pretty much common place anymore. In Beard Boy, both of Ben’s parents sport ink, as well as a number of the “boss” people in his neighborhood. When I was growing up, tattoos had a connotation that you were a troublemaker or were up to no good. People equated tattoos with gangs and criminals. A lot has changed since then and I’m only 30. Now, people from all walks of life from millionaires to people trying to find their footing have ink. Beard Boy helps change our perception of our society through these small details.
In the end, Beard Boy, is about a father doing what he can to make his son feel connected to him. I really hope more books in the future continue to hit on social topics like Beard Boy does. The more we expose our kids to these issues, the easier it is for them to have an open mind and be accepting of people from any background. This feel good book is one that we’ve leased from the library twice now and I’m pretty sure it will find a permanent place on our shelf in the near future.
Have you read this book? What did you think of it? #DishingDaddyhood on social media!