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The Story Behind...
Daddy Makes the Best Spaghetti

    I was talking with a friend who works in a day-care center, and she suggested that there was a need for nurturing-father books.  I thought the idea was a good one and since my husband shares domestic duties in our household, I watched him, waiting for a story to come.
    The title came first, which is unusual for me because titles are almost always a struggle.  Spaghetti is one of my husband's favorite things to cook, second only to popcorn.  His spaghetti is very good, but it got to be kind of a family joke that if he was doing the cooking it would be spaghetti for dinner ... again.  At our house, Daddy makes the spaghetti...period.  Add 'Best' in there and it sounded like a fun title and the beginning of a fun book.
    I must say, though he is a very nice daddy and looks great in a shower cap, Gary is not nearly as silly as the fellow in the book.  He does like to play and tease though.  When the girls were small, every Easter "The Great Bunny" spoke to them in a deep echoey voice coming through the speakers of our stereo system.  The voice gave clues about where they might look for hidden eggs and Easter baskets.  We all like to have fun in our house.
    The joke about the antlers came from something Sarah said when she was small.  She overheard her grandmother calling grandpa "dear" and started laughing. "You just called him deer!"  "Yes, he's my dear," Grandma Shirley answered. Sarah was amazed. "You mean he's your animal?"

   The drawings for this book were a family affair.  Lassen, who was five years old, posed as the boy in the story, Sarah, then thirteen, as the mother, and my husband the father.  I took snapshots of them and referred to the photos while doing the illustrations.  Lassen, especially, thought this was great fun and felt this book was partly hers since she made such an important contribution.

Here are Gary and Lassen posing for the "how much for that sack of potatoes" joke. They are supposed to in the grocery store instead of the kitchen.  I had to pretend that part.
In this picture Mommy-Sarah has just come home from work."Hello dears," she says. Daddy thinks she means "deers" and makes antlers. Corey-Lassen  thinks it's funny.
Here is the sketch I did of Daddy as Bathman.
And here is my husband posing as a much more dynamic Bathman!
The book came out when Lassen was in the first grade and when the librarian read it to her class, she proudly told them she'd posed for the pictures. That was all very well until they reached the page where after his bath, Corey pops out from under his towel to tell Daddy he will help make the spaghetti, revealing his bare backside.  "Omm!" the kids said, pointing at Lassen.  But really now, who takes a bath in their clothes?
    The finished illustrations were done in pre-separated art--as were most of the books done in the 1980's and before. I did the pictures in color, using red, blue and yellow colored pencils.  Then I traced the lines with a regular pencil, making it nice and dark. That was to be printed with dark blue ink as were the words. Then on that same sheet of paper I used diluted ink to paint grays for the lighter blues.  I painted not only where I wanted light blue, I also painted where I wanted the blue to mix with yellow to make green, with red to make purple, and with both red and yellow to make brown.  On another sheet of paper I painted grays where I wanted red to be printed, and on a third sheet I painted the grays for the yellow.  It's a little bit scary to work that way, because you can't be sure exactly what the picture will look like until it is printed.  But it was interesting, a good way to learn about color and printing, and I'm glad that I got started illustrating books while it was still being done.

Published by Clarion, 1986
ISBN 0-89919-388-9
0-89919-794-9 Paperback
0-395-51998-5 CarryAlong Book and Cassette
0-395-98036-4 Board Book

Corey and his father enjoy a close relationship that is aptly demonstrated in picture and story.  He teases Corey and they spend time together doing things such as shopping for groceries and making a pot of spaghetti or being silly at bath time and getting ready for bed. Hines' simple but warm pencil drawings play out the scenes by capitalizing on the incidents described in the text; the strong sense of family (Mother is here too) is evident.  Youngsters may wish their own fathers were as funny as this one is. Ages 3-5.
ALA Booklist, March 1, 1986

Children will feel the warmth and love surrounding this little boy whose two parents work. He helps his parents and they in turn make every routine a fun time. The illustrations enhance this mood.
Children's Choices for 1987, CBC/IRA. The Reading Teacher, October 1987

In this family, after daddy picks up Corey at day care they are in charge of the evening meal. Corey wants spaghetti, and he and daddy do the shopping and cooking before mommy gets home from work. The three have a nice dinner and a silly play time, then bath and bed for Corey. A gentle book about real life.
New York Times Book Review, September 1986

Precise, fine lines combined with clear colors on snowy white backgrounds capture the circumscribed world of the preschooler while celebrating the joys to be found in daily events. The central character and narrator, and engaging red-haired boy named Corey, is obviously delighted to participate with his father in preparing dinner - especially if the main course is spaghetti because "Daddy makes the best spaghetti." But Daddy?s talents are not confined to gastronomic specialities; he also knows how to transform the ordinary into the tub or as a barking dog with pajama legs for ears to entice him into bed. A smiling witness of these metamorphoses, Corey?s mother is equally ingenious in allowing him to make "bubble mountains" while helping with the after dinner clean-up and by tucking him into bed before counting kisses. Very much the child of the eighties, Corey has parents who share household tasks to make his life, as well as theirs, not only secure but also fun. The book conveys the kids the kind of marital respect which can exist within today?s family with charm and vitality. Sized comfortably for small hands yet large enough form group presentations - particularly because of page composition and perspective - this book will be a natural for picture-book programs.
The Horn Book, September/October 1986

Not only does Daddy make the best spaghetti, but he also performs endless antics that keep Corey entertained from the time he is picked up at the day-care center until he's tucked into bed.  Readers (and listeners) will find it impossible not to giggle along too, as Daddy does such wonderfully silly things as throw Corey over his shoulder in the grocery store and ask the clerk how much this sack of potatoes costs; appear as "Bathman"-with a towel thrown over his shoulders cape-like and a shower cap on his head-to fly Corey off to the tub; and pretend he's a dog, with the bottoms of Corey's pajamas on his head, the feet hanging down like floppy ears. Corey's Mom is also a good sport.  She comes home from work while the spaghetti is on the stove, and praises the results of the joint father-son cooking effort.  And she lets Corey make a bubble mountain in the sink when he helps her wash the dinner dishes. Hines' simple pictures and easygoing text capture all three characters' personalities, as well as the warmth of Corey's home.  Daddy is bound to steal the hearts of many young readers, who may well demand a "Bath-man" routine nightly. (3-6)
Kirkus Reviews, February 1986

The story depicts an increasingly familiar scene in which a silly Daddy picks up Corey. Jointly they shop and make spaghetti. Later a wildly energetic Daddy, alias Bathman, in shower cap with sea monster washcloth, play-acts his way through bathtime to the inevitable bedtime routine. Hines', crayoned, slightly awkward characters in their middle class home with dishwasher and built-in bed, will strike a warm responsive chord. Ages 3-5
Tina L. Burke, Childhood Education, ACEI, April 1987

Daddy picks Corey up from the daycare center, takes him grocery shopping and then home to cook a delicious spaghetti dinner. After dinner, Corey helps Mommy wash the dishes while Daddy turns into ...Bathman!... and carries Corey off for a fun-filled bath. There?s time for a story and kisses all around before Corey hits the sheets. Simple realistic pictures illustrate this warm celebration of family life. Hines clearly realizes the value to preschool readers of ordinary, everyday events: Corey?s daily routine is comfortingly familiar. The author also knows the specialness of a playful daddy who is willing to be silly with his child. This light-hearted, happy book is of special appeal to children in Corey?s situation, whose parents both work. (3-6)
Publishers Weekly, March 21, 1986

Corey is a child in an ideal family.  After his father picks him up at the day-care center, they shop for dinner and prepare supper.  Spaghetti is piping hot when Mom arrives from her job.  Then Daddy gets Corey ready for bed, and the happy threesome share a picture book and kisses.  For many adults the story probably verges on fantasy, but preschoolers will find the tale reassuring.  In fact, they will probably wish their own fathers would don shower cap and towel to turn into Bathman or use pajama feet for dog ears.  The pictures, predominately in shades of pink, yellow and blue, are as soothing as the text, and the uncluttered rooms and spotless clothes contribute to an idealized vision of family life that many may desire but few achieve.  PreS-Gr 2
Kathy Piehl, School Library Journal, May 1986

In this story of a loving family, Corey's Daddy doesn't just cook the best spaghetti, he also picks Corey up at daycare, takes him to the supermarket, pretends to be "Bathman" as he gives Corey a bath, and sits with the little boy as Mom reads a story, just before they both tuck him in his bed.
Parent and Preschooler, December 1988

A sweet and funny book, this one gets its charm from the Daddy's personality. He's really quite a guy: picks up his son at daycare, does the grocery shopping, cooks, plays jokes to the amusement of his family.  The story and pictures portray a loving and realistic picture of a working family.
Sara Willoughby-Herb Children's Literature Council of Pennsylvania, 1989

This sparkling picture book depicts family life at its best, as everyday routines are transformed into joyful games. (Ages 3-7)
The Gryphon House

The Horn Book Recommended Paperbacks: 1988

Daddy Makes the Best Spaghetti is the funny tale of helping father make dinner. This Dad is no bumbler but a joyful provider who can take over ably when Mom is busy elsewhere.
John D. Hubbard, Onieda Daily Dispatch, May 1986

SLEEPING! EATING!  BATHING!  PLAYING!  STAYING DRY!  LOVING!  This is my world and I like stories about my world.  Read me ALL BY MYSELF. Josie is just like me. I don?t have to wear diapers anymore and  and I go to the potty all by myself.  I love "pasghetti" just like Cory in DADDY MAKES THE BEST SPAGHETTI. Cory?s daddy is silly.  I like it when he says, "Tada! It's BATHMAN!" He looks just like superman with his towel cape.
It's obvious why these books by Anna Grossnickle Hines are hits with children.  Older children  enjoy them too because they describe processes that they now have under control.  It's a comfort to know other people have had the same problems.
Jan Lieberman, TNT

One of those rare books that a child will want to read again and again. The story takes us through a little boy's evening: helping Dad make spaghetti, helping Mom wash dishes, taking a bath, and finally going to bed. Children wall be able to relate to the simple and common realism of the plot, as well as the charming pictures. (K-2)
Library Materials Guide, Christian Schools International, Spring 1987

Five-year-old Corey attends a day-care enter and frequently goes grocery shopping with his Daddy after school.  He even helps him with cooking and setting the able.  He says his Daddy makes the best spaghetti!  Corey's Mommy works too, and when she comes home she gives them hugs and they give her some dinner.  She likes Daddy's spaghetti too!
The three-color line drawings depict with charm and vigor contemporary family life in which Corey's parents share household tasks and responsibility for making Corey's life secure and fun. Ages 3-6
Rose A. Berry, Demensions, January 1989

Daddy Makes the Best Spaghetti delights with Corey's father not only making the best spaghetti, but he dresses up as Batman and pretends he is a dog.
Children's Literature, June 1994

Corey's dad is happy food shopping, making dinner, and generally being a house-husband, giving Corey a great role model for one day becoming a caring and kind father.
Book Links, September 1996

Dad picks up Corey from the daycare center, shops, and prepares dinner before Mom gets home. Tonight it's  Corey;s favorite, and he helps. All three share chores and nighttime routines: setting the table, washing dishes, bathtime, bedtime story, and goodnight kisses. A very warm, cozy, modern family in ordinary, everyday situations, sharing them all together without hitting the reader over the head with the fact that mom work's and dad's a house husband. A solid addition to the alternative life-style genre.
Martha Shogren, Association of Children's Libraries

Author's note: I never thought of Corey's dad as a house-husband! If he was home all the time, Corey wouldn't be in daycare! My guess is that if it was mom who picked Corey up day care and went to the grocery store, then home to start dinner, the assumption would be that she also worked outside the home. Interesting, isn't it?

Anna Grossnickle Hines portrays everyday routines with warmth and humor in her text and the soft tones of her illustrations for Daddy Makes the Best Spaghetti. The reader follows Corey as he accompanies his father to the grocery, helps him cook, and helps his mother wash the dishes. Obviously, this is a family in which household chores and child rearing are equally shared; but, a special loving relationship is also shown between Corey and his father. The father?s antics and games make the everyday routing more interesting and even fun!
Perspectives, Winter 1987

Daddy and Corey conspire to cook up a yummy batch of spaghetti as a dinner time surprise for Mom when she gets home from work. Surprises, humor and fun fill the family's meal, bath and bed times too. Anna Grossnickle Hines serves the young reader and his parents a huge helping of love!
Adele Trested, The Plaistow/Hampstead News, October 1986

Daddy Makes the Best Spaghetti is a heart-warming look at a preschooler and his playful, loving father.  There is an exuberance to the book that makes it a charming read-aloud.  The father and son shop for and prepare a spaghetti dinner together for mother. "When Mommy comes home she says, 'Hello, Dears.' Daddy makes antlers and gives her a kiss." This passage gives an example of the lighthearted and warm family life Hines portrays.  Her pictures expand the simple narrative.  When Daddy comes to give the boy his bath the text reads—"Then in comes .. . Ta da! Ta daaa!..... Bathman!" The picture shows Daddy with a polka dot shower cap on his head, a towel cape around his shoulders, a rubber duck in his hand, with arms outstretched.  Cuddle together and read this just before your child's bedtime. (ages 2 to 5)  Marilyn Carpenter, Book Notes, Summer 1986

In this gentle glimpse of one family's daily routine, Corey's father picks him up at day care, takes him grocery shopping, cooks delicious spaghetti, and cares for his family with patience and good humor.  When Corey's mother arrives home, she completes this warm family setting.  Mother and Corey wash dishes and make bubble mountains.  After dinner, Dad becomes the mysterious, yet silly Bathman, wearing a towel cape and shower cap to make Corey's bathtime a funtime.  A comfortable, cozy threesome, the parents and child read a bedtime story and lovingly say goodnight.  The colored drawings have action appeal, are uncluttered, and clearly and easily illustrate the brief lines of the text.  Young children can readily enjoy the simple routine of this family, but how "routine" the family, itself, may be is debatable.  How pressured would parents feel to imitate this pleasant, non-stressful evening schedule?
Wings, November 1986

The story is a simple gentle one: Corey's father picks him up at the day care center after work, and the two are in charge of doing the shopping and cooking the evening meal before Corey's mother arrives home from work. There's a lot of affection, silliness, and teasing among  the three characters; young readers may end up demanding the "Bathman" routine that Corey's daddy performs for him each night. The pencil drawings that accompany the text are simple and effective.
Rosemary Black, The Record, Hackensack, NJ

Corey is a child in an ideal family.  Corey's father picks him up from the day-care center and they go to shop and prepare spaghetti for dinner for when Mommy comes home.  Daddy helps Corey get ready for bed with fun and games.  Then the three share a picture book and kisses. Children will enjoy the story, but may be a bit jealous of Corey's ideal family life.
The George C.Stone Center for Children's Books, Clarmont Graduate School, Claremont California, 1986

He's fascinated.  He curls on the sofa beside his mother as she reads, his chubby ringers guiding her hand as she turns the pages.  "Superdaddy," he giggles, pointing at a picture.
"Bathman," his mother laughs as she reads.  "That looks just like your Daddy."
   "I miss Daddy," he says. He’s visiting his grandparents in Oklahoma this week and Daddy has stayed home in New York.  His mother continues to read as he watches and helps her turn the pages.  Toward the end she says, reading,... "and we have kisses, one, two, three..." He reaches up and kisses her.
   The book is Daddy Makes the Best Spaghetti. After the first reading this became Teddy Blyth's new favorite book.  His mother says it's because his Daddy does all the things that the daddy in the book does - he shops for dinner and makes the best spaghetti, plays bathman, tickles and hides, and carries Teddy (in the story it's Corey) in to bed.
"Good book, Nami," he says to me when the story has been read several times.  It has passed the severest critic.    Teddy turned two the last week in June, so don't let the publisher's age recommendations stop you if the story sounds like something that happens in your house.  There's no such thing as a book being too advanced if you read it to the child - you can adjust the story to the age as you go.  And this is a great story, with a naturalness and charm that even adults will enjoy.
Booknotes by Sunny Tiedemann, Bartlesville Oklahoma Examiner-Enterprise July 1986

Author and illustrator Anna Grossnickle Hines takes a very different approach to fathers at home in  Daddy Makes the Best Spaghetti. As the book opens, Corey tells how Daddy picks him up at the day-care center, then takes him to the grocery store where they plan and shop for dinner.  The very careful, almost stiff illustrations, show father and son preparing dinner, setting the table, greeting mother when she comes in the door. Quite the nicest scenes in the book are quiet ones where the three family members get ready for dinner, eat and read together. But Daddy has lots of games up his sleeve as well. With a "Ta da!" he appears as a cloaked and capped Bathman, to whisk Corey off to the bath. Afterwards he plays an unexpected game of hide-and-seek and appears, barking like a dog, with Corey’s pajamas on his head. This reviewer found Daddy's efforts at entertaining Corey to be a bit-overdone, as if the author as well as Daddy, were trying too hard for the child's approval. But the reviewer's children yelped with laughter and asked for the book again and  again. Despite the book's shortcomings, the warmth and tenderness of an actively involved Daddy come shining through. Daddy Makes the Best Spaghetti recognizes that men can be strong and silly, good providers and good bath givers, and quite competent, thank you, on the domestic scene.
The Union, Arcata, California, June 1986

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