My Dad Used To Be Cool is a brand new picture book created by Keith Negley and Flying Eye Books. In the book, as a father and son duo go about their daily routine, a little boy is plagued by a mind-boggling question - did my dad really used to be cool? A humorous starting point that sons of any age can relate to, the story which follows is cleverly designed and charmingly told.
My Dad Used To Be Cool is minimal on text with visuals used as the main storytelling device. Although less abstract than some of his editorial work, there is still an element of illusion in Keith's picture book illustrations. As the young boy's mind begins to wonder about the details of just how his Dad could have been considered cool, his imagination begins to wander. Everyday staircases and rusty old bikes are transformed into scenes of rock concerts and motorbike gangs as he tries to get his head around this implausible idea. To display these childish imaginings, each image visually echoes the one before - a clever way of letting the boy's imagination be the driving force behind the tale's narrative.
Flying Eye Books are always beautifully published with thick pages and tactile finishes as well as the odd surprise to keep fans guessing. My Dad Used To Be Cool's wow factor comes near the end of the story as the boy's mind shifts from how his dad used to be cool to what might have made him give it all up. The heartwarming message of father-son fun trumping being considered cool comes with added visual punch: a double page spread transforms into a quadruple-page fold out showing the pair having a blast on a wacky shoot in a play park. Each square inch of the scene is visually engaging and undeniably cool with out any reimagining required.
When writing a piece for Inkygoodness, I had the pleasure of interviewing Keith Negley about his first release under the Flying Eye Books name. During our chat he revealed that the original motivation for him creating picture books was purely so that he would have a more varied selection of topics to read about and discuss with his own son. As a result, both Tough Guys Have Feelings Too and My Dad Used To Be Cool make perfect father-son bed time stories. However, it is worth the warning that if any Dad's are planning to read Keith's latest title to their child the inevitable question of "Dad, did you used to be cool too?" is bound to crop up.