Toby Morris’s work across multiple forms has been extraordinary. His connection with The Spinoff for one. He is the illustrator for a significant number of their publications and his connection to rather controversial issues both here in Aotearoa New Zealand, and overseas. As a writer he has penned multiple publications and illustrated countless others. His work is iconic in a way that many associate him in the same league as the illustrious Dick Frizzell.
His latest book Dad Man Walking takes a humorous look at the life and times of a Kiwi dad - an honest, sometimes brutal exploration of what it means to be a dad in today’s environment. It is the only book this year that has created a laughing out loud response - which is something in and of itself. The writing is clever and the drawings are uniquely and unequivocally Morris at his best.
From packing the car in that endless tetris-like puzzle through the battle for the finding of shoes in that tricky pre-going out phase, Morris gives his perspective of dad life. The ideas are relatable with every page bringing a nod of recognition, a smile or that aforementioned laughter.
Punctuated throughout are thoughts and quotes from dads and children alike. It seems - like most of this type of text - that most children are reductionist in their thoughts of their dads, largely relying on terrible dad jokes, and the drinking of beer to really solidify their impression. On the other hand, the dads are genuine, thoughtful and reflective in their approach to the task.
With Father’s coming up in early September, Dad Man Walking is really a must-have for every Kiwi dad. A very enthusiastic endorsement from this Kiwi dad.
Reviewer: Chris Reed
Penguin, RRP $25.00