'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Sunday 29 August 2010

Review: When Dad Was a Teenager

Title: When Dad Was a Teenager

Author: Mini Goss

Illustrator: Mini Goss

Publisher: Black Dog Books, $16.95 RRP

Format: Softcover

ISBN: 9781876372361

For ages: 6-12

Type: Picture Book

About: Nothing like a little sentimentality to upturn the corners of the mouth. The subtleties of this bright, giggle-inducing book may be lost on the very young, but they’ll no less enjoy barrelling into the past to witness the life of Dad pre-… well – pre-Dad.

For young children, it’s hard to fathom that parents and grandparents were once also kids and teens themselves – they’ve just always been Dad or Mum or Granny. This fun book by the talented Mini Goss takes readers back in time to the late 1970s when Dad was an early teen. You see, Dad was not always bald. He used to have hair back then.

He also had a penchant for hair gelled spikes, an ├╝ber messy room, parachute silk tracksuits (OMG, how embarrassing), videos and super high tech walkmans. Basically, he was just like a modern day teen with all the new mod-cons and desire to be cool, only it all looked so tragic back then – and kids and adults alike will just adore the total cringe factor, especially older readers (and – sorry Mum and Dad – I mean old).

Goss has written a humorous storyline in the voice of Dad’s reminiscing children, and has filled each double page spread with a riot of illustration, cataloguing the trend of the day through the late 70s to mid 80s, showcasing an eyefest of hilarity and relatability that will have parents guffawing and reliving the memories with their kids… although I defy you to explain those parachute pants, thankyouverymuch MC Hammer.

Each page features a line from a song of that year, from Devo to Cyndi Lauper, Wham, Olivia Newton John and The Police, which will also get you humming a tune and heading straight to youtube with the kids in tow. If you search the pages carefully, you’ll spot a catalogue of icons endemic to each year from Dynasty and Woman’s Day to teddy bear biscuits, Garfield and Cabbage Patch dolls.

Despite the hilarity and fun of this book, there is a subtle undercurrent that clearly reminds us that adults were once rule-breaking, over-sleeping, cool-seeking teens, too. And that regardless of the changes in high-tech gizmos and music, some things never change.

Note: kids can look out for the guinea pigs hidden on each page of the 80s.

Author website

This book is available online