Crawling: A Father’s First Year

Published By: Pantheon

Book Category: Non-Fiction, Family & Relationships

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Reviewed by Claire Vath

For years, Elisha Cooper has illustrated and written delightful children’s books. Ironically, his affinity for these works never translated to children. “I would sooner have been handed a bomb than a baby,” he states unapologetically. But Cooper’s newest book, Crawling: A Father’s First Year, now out in paperback, was written for adults and is just as magical.

Cooper explores his love affair with daughter Zoë—and fatherhood—in this tenderly written tome. “There’s something about her,” he writes, “the big hair, the big eyes—that is striking and almost clichéd.”
Zoë’s introduction into the lives of Cooper and wife, Elise, shatters their former simplistic existence in the cozy, idyllic hills of Berkley, California, overlooking the bay. It’s the “epicenter of isolation,” Cooper muses.

When their family of two expands to three, Cooper bemoans the army of stuffed animals that has set up camp in his home; he relinquishes his bed to this new family member; and he masters the art of using a “snot sucker.”

But despite the middle-of-the-night feedings, a 3 a.m. trip to the ER and general chaos from having another human for whom he’s responsible, Cooper gets comfortable with Zoë. A stay-at-home father, he takes his infant to the Cheese Board for blueberry scones in the morning, trips to the zoo on languid afternoons and play dates at the park where he sizes up the other infants on the playground.

Then, the family prepares to relocate to Chicago. Cooper waxes nostalgic about all the places of Zoë’s “firsts” as they pack up and leave the warm womb of their Berkley dwelling for the Windy City. After a cross-country road trip, he reunites with his wife and daughter in Chicago. “I’m staring in the rearview at Elise and Zoë as they sit together in the backseat . . . the wild kiss-the-ground relief of having made it home.”

Cooper’s beautifully written, moving portrait of life is a sweet soliloquy to his first-born child and his wife.

Armchair Interviews says: Crawling captures the same enchantment of Cooper’s children’s books as he learns to relish life’s simple pleasures with Zoë.

Author’s Web site:

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