Johnny Valentine’s The Daddy Machine (1992)

The Daddy Machine (1992), written by Johnny Valentine and illustrated by Lynette Schmidt was an early Alyson Wonderland publication.

Two children who live with their moms begin to wonder what it would be like to have a dad. When their moms leave them home alone with a construction kit, they decide to build a daddy machine! The siblings successfully build the machine, but there is a major design flaw — no off switch. After 60+ dads appear, one of the children thinks to pull the plug and dads stop popping out. One of the dads is good with machines and can reverse the process, so most of the dads step back into it and disappear. However, two decide they want to stay and they rent the house next store.

The lyrical text and wacky plot are reminiscent of Dr. Seuss’s The Cat in the Hat. Although a silly book that may get a giggle or two, the plot is odd and the children’s sudden desire for a dad appears unmotivated. An interesting read, but not a must read.

* Reissued by Alyson Wonderland in 2004

This review is part of my “Snapshots of LGBTQ Kid Lit” project. I’m working on a book, The New Queer Children’s Literature: Exploring the Principles and Politics of LGBTQ* Children’s Picture Books, which is under contract with the University Press of Mississippi. Part of my research is identifying and interpreting English-language children’s picture books with LGBTQ* content published in the US and Canada between 1979 and 2019. Follow my blog to follow my journey!


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