My side of the car: A father-daughter adventure

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Gearing up for father’s day (just one week away!), we’ve been reading and loving My Side of the Car (Candlewick Press, 2011).

It is almost impossible to define the unique bond that can develop between a father and a daughter — two people bound together by mutual admiration, undying love, playfulness and patience — but it is perfectly captured here in My Side of the Car. Father-daughter team Kate and Jules Feiffer wrote and illustrated the book based on a true story: A rainy day trip that turned into family folklore that turned into a book.

It goes like this: Sadie has been wanting to go to the zoo forever, but her attempts to get there are always thwarted by some other event — her mother breaking her foot or her grandparents unexpected visit.

Finally, Sadie and her father set out for zoo once more  — and nothing is going to stop them this time. And look at this happy duo:

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But then, it starts to rain. Her father says “Sadie, it’s raining. We can’t go to the zoo.” She contends: “It’s not raining on my side of the car.”

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As the story continues, Sadie’s contention that it is beautiful out (despite the worsening weather) gets more exaggerated as she becomes more determined than ever to reach their destination.

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And dad, now more determined than ever to keep his promise to his daughter, keeps driving. Check out the determination in his face:

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When they arrive, they are equally disappointed by what they find…rain and mud and more rain…

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How does it end? I’ll let you find out on your own. But according to Jules Feiffer (a Pullitzer-prize and Academy award winning illustrator), it’s the journey that matters here, not the destination: “The pleasure was in the playful give-and-take between us. A joke based on a reality, that reality being that she as a child was determined that it not be raining because she had an agenda, and I as a dad going along with her agenda…I would have certainly ended up at the wildlife sanctuary with her and walked through the rain, and walked through the mud, and agreed completely with her that it wasn’t all that bad.” (Candlewick Press interview)

For her part, Kate Feiffer says she and her father continue to play this game — a fond reminder of a special day: “To be honest, I can’t recall how that car trip ended. What I do know is that ever since that day, when my father and I disagree about something, I tell him, “It’s not raining on my side of the car.”

This is a perfect read to celebrate father’s day and beyond. It’s a great way to start the conversation about great trips or adventures you’ve been on as a family. And it’s one of those books that gets better every time you read it. Definitely a keeper.

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