Today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday, you’ll meet a man who knows the names of EVERYTHING!

I was on one of those baking-hot family vacations, back in the days when having air conditioning in a car was optional. Seriously. My sister and I were probably the only kids at school whose parents would not spend the extra dollars to have it installed.

“Roll down your window,” they’d say, “and poke your head out if you’re hot.”

Okay, maybe not in those exact words, but the coolest air my sister and I enjoyed in the back seat was called WD50 which translates to windows down at 50mph.

I’m remembering one vacation out in Colorado when we drove through the Rocky Mountains. The meadow flowers bowed in the breezes, the sun blazed over us, and the views were spectacular. Up in the passenger seat, my mother glanced up from her map to gaze out the window. (Yes. These were the days before cell phones. How did we manage to live back then???)

“STOP!” my mom ordered. “There’s no one behind us. Back up about one-hundred feet, and pull over.”

Of course, we all thought Mom had spotted an injured animal and asked what we were backing down the mountain to rescue.

“I saw a (insert LONG Latin name of a botanical species found in Colorado EXCEPT at that particular time of year).”

Dad pulled over. Mom popped the trunk and pulled out a small pail and trowel. (These were standard equipment in our car when traveling with my mother.) Mom marched up the hill, flashed us her triumphant smile, knelt, and dug up the rare species to bring home for her rock garden. I don’t think there was a plant she didn’t know the proper botanical name for. That goes for bird names, too.

As always, my story ties in with today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday review. Yes, my story was about my mother, who, like my dad, amazed me with all she knew–just like the child in today’s book who feels amazement at his father’s extensive knowledge.

My Father Knows the Names of Things is written by Jane Yolen, the beloved, award-winning children’s author of more than 370 books and illustrated by the imaginative, award-winning illustrator, Stephane Jorisch.

Title – My Father Knows the Names of Things

Written by – Jane Yolen

Illustrated by –Stephane Jorisch

Published by – Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers – 2010

Suitable for ages – 3-7

Topics/Theme –  Learning, sharing, father and child time.

Opening –

My father knows the names of things,

Each bird that sings,

Their nicknames, too,

He knows the names of dogs

And cheese

And seven words that all mean blue.

Amazon Review HERE – From each bird that sings, to every kind of cloud, to all of the planets, the father in this story knows the names of them all–and takes the time to impart his knowledge to his child. As they walk together outside, the father points out which mosses are the fuzziest and which insects are the buzziest, which flowers are the tallest and which beetles are the smallest. Jane Yolen’s lyrical text is complemented by Stephane Jorisch’s soft artwork, a pairing that is touching without being overly sentimental, which makes this the perfect choice for fathers and children to share.

Learn more about Jane Yolen HERE.

Learn more about Stephane Jorisch HERE.

Until next Friday!

12 thoughts on “Today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday, you’ll meet a man who knows the names of EVERYTHING!

  1. I love your story introducing this great book. We didn´t have A/C in our car either and, get this, I wouldn´t let them roll down the windows because it would mess my hair. I´m surprised my father went along with it and even more surprised my younger brothers didn´t kill me as they sweltered in the back seat. Yes, my dad knew a lot and I adored him. He obviously knew how to keep a pre-teen girl happy!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thinking back to those un-air-conditioned car ride days, I think my parents said that having the windows down gave them earaches. And if no air conditioning wasn’t bad enough, the car seats were vinyl that, on sweltering days, pasted itself to the backs of my legs when I wore shorts. Ahhhhh, memory lane. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I LOVE your story! My mother would just yell “Stop!” and then we’d pick up boulders from the side of the road to take home to her rock garden. I remember scraping my shins on boulders in the area where I was supposed to put my feet. We always came home several hundred pounds heavier than when we left, and it wasn’t because we “bought” souvenirs. But I digress. Yes, it’s so cool to have parents who “know the names of things.” And Jane Yolen never disappoints. Interesting that it’s 2010. I’ve never seen it in all my trips to the library. Just checked the San Francisco Public Library circulation. They only have two copies still available, both at the main children’s center. The library policy is to weed multiple copies from circulation but “keep” books of historical significance. So my guess is that this title has been weeded down to its historical value quantity. I noticed that this was also the case for books written by Lucille Clifton, another one of my favorite authors.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m smiling (grinning joyfully) as I picture your car loaded down with boulders–clearly far heavier than the botanical specimens my mother dug up. I was also surprised that I hadn’t come across this book before. I was browsing through the picture books on the “to-be-shelved” cart when it caught my eye.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I love your personal story too. Our “STOP” was always to deviate to find a water source for a picnic.

    Jane Yolen is truly a poet extraordinaire. Her words run of the tongue.

    PS I didn’t get a car with air conditioning until 2015!!!!!!

    Liked by 2 people

    • One of my favorite parts about blogging is reading the memories shared in the comments. I’m already picturing you on a picnic with your family beside a stream. I think the only other reason my parents yelled, “STOP!” on those family vacations out west was that they spotted a sign for a rock shop.
      And I agree that Jane Yolen’s writing is extraordinary. My bookshelf holds many of her books.


  4. Leslie, thanks for your charming anecdote leading in to the review of My Father Knows the Names of Things. It brought back several childhood memories. I think I must add this book to my collection — hoping it won’t be hard to obtain. Looks like a gem.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Sheila, Thanks for popping in!
      I LOVE reviewing books that tie into my childhood. Writing those little snippets from memory lane brings me smiles.
      Since my library owned this book, I’m guessing it won’t be too hard to find. I usually have to have the books on my list brought in from other libraries.


    • Hi, Barbara, Looks like our parents had something in common. 🙂 I’m glad airconditioning is standard in cars these days. The book is quite adorable both from the writing and illustrating sides. I hope you’ll look for it, and I hope you enjoy it. Thanks so much for visiting my blog.


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