Tell me a tattoo story

Daddy’s arms are good for hugs.

They’re big and strong and colorful, too. They look kind of like one of your favorite picture books; in fact, Daddy says the drawings on his arms are just like a story to him. In the new book “Tell Me a Tattoo Story” by Alison McGhee, illustrated by Eliza Wheeler, each picture says something important.

Not a day goes by that the little boy doesn’t want to see his Daddy’s tattoos. Yes, he’s seen them before, many times, and he knows exactly why they’re there. He never gets tired of hearing about them.

The one on Daddy’s shoulder is a picture from a book that his mother used to read to him when he was a little boy, a long time ago. She read that book “over and over and over,” and Daddy remembered it well.

The tattoo under Daddy’s wrist is a reminder of something that his Daddy used to say. Daddy has great memories of his father, the kindness he showed, and the lessons he taught. The tattoo is just two words, but it helps keep those words fresh.

The big colorful tattoo on Daddy’s arm? Oh, that reminds him of a very good day when he met the most beautiful girl in the world and saw her dazzling smile. She’s still beautiful, by the way; Daddy’s sure the boy would know.

On the other hand, the tattoo on his ribs reminds him of “the longest trip” he ever took, and how much it made him sad and lonely. It was a trip far, far away and Daddy missed his family. He was awfully homesick then.

But the “dinky little heart” tattoo on Daddy’s chest – the one with the numbers inside it – that’s the little boy’s favorite one of all. There’s something very special about it, and its story is very meaningful.

It might, in fact, be the most important tattoo of all…

Have you ever met a preschooler who didn’t like a good story? When you think about it, isn’t a tat just another way of telling some sort of tale? Put ‘em together, and “Tell Me Tattoo Story” is a nice mix of the two.

With a different spin on the classic tell-me-about-the-day-I-was-born preschooler favorite, author Alison McGhee brings a Dad’s version of a child’s life to the page. It’s lovingly obvious that Dad’s told this story many times because he only hints at certain parts; still, it’s familiar and comforting to the boy, who’s heard it all before. I loved the implied intimacy of that family tale, and the way it’s told.

No children’s picture book is complete without pictures, of course, and illustrator Eliza Wheeler does an exceptional job in this one. Look closely at the Dad, at what he’s doing and what he remembers. You’ll be charmed.

This is a sweet book for kids ages 3-to-6, especially if you’ve got a tat tale to tell. In that case, your child will naturally want “Tell Me a Tattoo Story” in their arms tonight.

The Bookworm is Terri Schlichenmeyer. Email her at

More in Life

Ward off Halloween’s mystical monsters with these garlic-infused cheesy shells and pepper sauce. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
On the strawberry patch: Tasty Halloween

Keep spooky creatures at bay with garlic-infused shells and pepper sauce.

Will Morrow (courtesy)
Let there be lights!

When I stopped in at one of our local stores, I didn’t cringe when I saw all the holiday decorations on display.

Cabbage, potatoes, salmon and an assortment of pantry staples make for a culinary challenge. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
On the strawberry patch: Take a culinary pop quiz

Get creative with what’s in your pantry

This undated John E. Thwaites photo, perhaps taken near Seward, shows the S.S. Dora grounded. (Alaska State Library photo collection)
Resilience of the Dora, part 3

Her long career had come to an end at last.

Nick Varney
Unhinged Alaska: Sometimes I wonder, who needs who

Dog whispers we are not. Suckers for unconditional love, you bet.

Meredith Harber (courtesy)
Minister’s Message: Don’t let termination dust bring you down

If I’m honest, this time of year is the hardest for me mentally and emotionally.

Pieces hang on display at the Kenai Art Center for the open call show on Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021 in Kenai, Alaska. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
‘They felt like they could share with us now’

Art center open call offers space for new artists.

The Cosmic Hamlet Entertainment film crew prepares for a new scene to roll on the set of “Bolt from the Blue” at the Kilcher Homestead on Sept. 28. (Photo by Sarah Knapp/Homer News)
‘Bolt from the Blue’ film features Homer

“The Office” star Kate Flannery cast in feature film produced in Homer.

These old-fashioned doughnuts don’t skimp on the fat or sugar. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
On the strawberry patch: Memories of old-fashioned doughnuts

My recipe is for old-fashioned doughnuts, and since I make these maybe twice a year, I don’t skimp on the sugar and fat.

Virginia Walters (Courtesy photo)
Life in the Pedestrian Lane: October is here again

The days are shorter. We are losing nearly six minutes a day. It’s getting colder.

This John E. Thwaites photo shows the S.S. Dora near Sand Point, Alaska. Thwaites sailed as mail clerk on the Dora between at least 1905 and 1912. (Alaska State Library photo collection)
Resilience of the Dora, part 2

The S.S. Dora touched lives on and became part of the history of the Kenai Peninsula and Southcentral Alaska.

Steller Sea Lions can be seen in an enclosure at the Alaska SeaLife Center on Friday, Sept. 24, 2021, in Seward, Alaska. (Photo by Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion)
Alaska SeaLife Center to Alaskans: We’re still here for you

You rallied and kept us alive. Today, we’re writing to say thank you.