Battle of the Books: Father-Son Edition
February 3, 2011
by Shawn Bean
© Courtesy of the author
You may have gleened from a few previous posts that I have a new book coming out just before Father's Day. It's called Show Dad How. It's an instruction manual for new dads that covers everything from conception through the first year. My oldest boy Jackson knows I'm a writer, and it has inspired him to create a few titles of his own. He has a particularly awesome series about military vehicles and aircraft (so far he's written Jets and Tanks. Brandy and I just pre-ordered Helicopters on Amazon).
Last week, he was forced to take his wordsmithery to a new level. The latest assignment from Mrs Smith, his award-winning teacher, was to write a book. Each week, a different kid was sent home with the Author Box (a Tupperware containing glue, construction paper, yarn, markers, colored pencils, et al) to create their own story. Jackson was the first student to get the Author Box; the way I saw it, he was chosen to set the tone for the class. With his passion for the army, space, lava, aliens, volcanoes, and ninjas, he was a solid pick.
In one fit of creativity last weekend, he got the book finished. After the last period was in place and everything was stapled together, Jackson said, "Look, Dad! You've only written one book, and I've written three books. I've written more books than you." This was true. My book is about kids, all fluffy and snuggly and feel-good and fuzzy, and here he is, having written multiple books about the most hardcore part of society: war. But it's only fair that my book be given a fair shot. So let's have a battle of the books, shall we? Let's compare them and see who really has the best one.
TITLE. Jackson: Death Rises. Me: Show Dad How. Winner: Without a doubt, Jax. When he first shared the title, which he'd thought of a full week before creating the book, it blew me away. It may be the single best title for a spy novel ever. Make no mistake: you will see that title on a Stephen King novel or another grocery store checkout tome in the near future. It's just too good.
PAGE COUNT. DR: 8 (including cover). SDH: 144. Winner: Me. In your face, sonny.
MAIN CHARACTER. DR: There are two. There is the black samurai, who can "control animals by looking into their eyes," and the red samurai, whose robe "is painted in blood." SDH: A variety of dads of different ages, ethnicities, etc. Winner: Jackson. As cool as dads are, we are no match for telepathic, blood-soaked warriors.
STORYLINE. DR: The red and black samurai battle for the "sword of doom," which is "the moste powerful" (his spelling). SDH: A series of illustrated instructions (a la the how-to foldout in the pocket of every airplane seat) that shows dads how to swaddle a baby, childproof their home, use baby stuff in everyday adult life (Pedialyte is great for hangovers!). Winner: Jackson. The sword of doom would hari-kari a hangover in a hot second.
FAVORITE PART. DR: The drawing of the Pyramid of Duza, where the sword of doom is hidden. SDH: Instructions on how to delivery a baby in the subway (contributed by an EMT). Winner: Me, although the sword of doom would come in handy with the umbilical cord.
BEST LINE. DR: "Yes! The red samurai has the sword of doom!" SDH: "I am a father, and that means nothing. I am a dad, and that means everything. Anyone can be a father, and anyone has for 50,000 years. There is a difference between being a father and being a dad. Darth Vader said, 'Luke, I am your father.' He didn't say, 'Luke, I am your dad.'" Winner: Tie. Certainly the elation of winning the sword of doom is palpable, but I thought I captured fatherhood quite nicely there.
OVERALL WINNER: With three outright wins, the spoils go to J-Man. Well done, son. I need to get a few more books under my belt before stepping into the ring again.
Oh, and by the way, Death Rises comes with a homemade bookmark decorated with small swords. The butt-kicking just doesn't seem to stop.