#201 – 11 Ways to Ruin a Photograph by Darcy Pattison

National Veterans Awareness Week

United States Senate Resolution 143

November 11 to November 17, 2012

The resolution calls for educational efforts directed at elementary and secondary school students concerning the contributions and sacrifices of veterans.

Veterans Day

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”
– John F. Kennedy

5 Stars

11 Ways to Ruin a Photograph*

Darcy Pattison/Michael Jeter

32 Pages  Ages: 4+

Back Cover:  When her father goes soldiering for a year, a girl decides that without Dad at home, it’s not a family photo album. Though her beloved Nanny is in charge of the album that year, the girl makes sure that photographs of her never turn out well. Photos are blurred, wind blows hair in her face. April rains bring umbrellas to hide behind. Halloween means a mask. This poignant, yet funny family story, expresses a child’s anger and grief for a Dad whose work takes him away for long periods of time. It’s a tribute to the sacrifices made by military families and to those who care for children when a family needs support.


Dad is in the service and goes off to war (in this day and age). Left at home, his daughter is angry and lonely. She misses her dad and worries he will get hurt. To show her frustration with a situation she has no control over, the girl takes control over what she can—photos for the family album. Until dad returns and is in the photos, the girl will not let herself be in the photos either.

The girl is very good at ruining each photograph, right through the following Christmas, when she and mom pose in their new dresses, with the girl facing backwards. Backwards is the perfect position to see dad walking up to the house. With much glee the three, mom, dad, and their little girl, take the perfect photograph. Now, next year . . .

During the eleven months that dad is gone, each monthly family photo is missing the girl’s face. From January’s picture hiding behind a snowman to November’s Thanksgiving photo standing behind a cousin, the little girl adamantly refuses to be photographed for the family album. Birthday candles blur, a call of “wasps” scatters everyone from view, and sparklers wash out the photograph.

I like that this little girl does not have a name. Any girl can insert her name and be that girl who is protesting her absent father. I am not thrilled with the passive-aggressive nature of the rebellion, yet it makes for a funny and poignant story.  11 Ways to Ruin a Photograph is the perfect story for today, Veteran’s Day. There are many little girls, and big, missing their fathers who are in Iraq or Afghanistan, or any other place but home.

11 Ways to Ruin a Photograph is the perfect gift for dad to give his daughter, particularly if shipping out soon. It is also a great book to send to dad, far away from home, from his lonesome daughter. I like the illustrations. The simple poses are respresentative of most family photographs. Dad is in the Air Force (blue uniform and planes in the air), yet minus those two clues, he could be in  any branch.  Still, I think it would be cool, though a lot of work, to make an edition for each service and then one for little boys. This one story can be a huge series, especially when placing mom in the service instead of dad.

Short of that endeavor, 11 Ways to Ruin a Photograph is one wonderful tribute to those in the service and those who miss them.

*Winner of “The Help” Children’s Story Contest.

11 Ways to Ruin a Photograph*

Author: Darcy Pattison   website   book's site
Illustrator: Michael Jeter   website
Publisher: MIMS House   website
Release Date: October 26, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-9798621-4-4
Number of Oages: 32
Ages: 4+

4 thoughts on “#201 – 11 Ways to Ruin a Photograph by Darcy Pattison

  1. Pingback: #607 – Saucy and Bubba: A Hansel and Gretel Tale by Darcy Pattison | Kid Lit Reviews

  2. Pingback: #610 – Saucy and Bubba: A Hansel and Gretel Tale by Darcy Pattison | Kid Lit Reviews

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