Two Picture Books about Dads and Kids: Up High and Big Bear and Little Bear Go Fishing

Up High and Big Bear and Little Bear capture some of the everyday moments in father-son relationships.

Up High by Matt Hunt. Noisy Crow, 2024, 36 pages

Reading Level: Picture Book, ages 0-4

Recommended for: ages 2-5

For this city boy and his dad, Sunday morning means a walk along the busy streets. Dutifully holding his father’s hand and staring up at tall buildings, the little boy starts to feel small. “So I ask to go up high.” From his father’s broad shoulders, perspectives change. The pace seems faster; he can imagine himself flying. But after stopping at their favorite bench for lunch, the boy begins to notice smaller things as well, like acorns, minnows, ants—“Things that make me feel like a giant.” Locating himself between the huge and the tiny, the boy has confidence enough to start home on his own two feet, though by the time he arrives there, he’s safely tucked in Dad’s arms.

Bottom Line: A gentle story with simple, colorful illustrations that capture a child’s perspective.


Big Bear and Little Bear Go Fishing by Amy Hest, illustrated by Erin Stead. Neal Porter Books (Holiday House), 2024, 38 pages.

Reading Level: Picture Book, ages 4-8

Recommended for: ages 2-6 as a read-aloud, 4-8 for independent readers.

Big Bear and Little Bear are not identified as father and son, but that’s the assumption. Little literally looks up to Big, to the extent of imitating and repeating everything the latter does and says. When Big Bear announces he’s “just in the mood to go fishing,” he has a willing companion right away. First they need to get ready: into their wagon go poles, then warm blueberry scones, and don’t forget the book of stories (“Fishermen need stories,” advises Big Bear). Then off to the lake, and a long lazy afternoon.

Will they catch a fish? Maybe that wasn’t even the real point of this excursion. The story is told in simple prose that an early reader might be able to share with a younger sibling. But the soft watercolor illustrations are the real attraction here, communicating warmth and peace.

Bottom line: A simple, cozy read for a quiet afternoon.

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Janie Cheaney

Janie is the VERY senior staff writer for Redeemed Reader, as well as a long-time contributor to WORLD Magazine and an author of nine books for children. The rest of the time she's long-distance smooching on her four grandchildren (not an easy task). She lives with her equally senior husband of almost-fifty years in the Ozarks of Missouri.

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