Hammer and Nails

Written by Josh Bledsoe
Illustrated by Jessica Warrick

Darcy has plans. She and her friend are going to play dress up, do each other’s hair, and polish their nails.

Daddy has plans, too. He’s going to read the paper, mow the lawn, and fix the fence.

When Darcy’s friend cancels and she’s sure her day is ruined, Daddy suggests a Darcy-Daddy Day. Now they can tackle their to-do lists together.

But will Darcy enjoy hammering? Will Daddy do nails? You bet!

Join Darcy and Daddy as they discover the fun in trying new things, especially with someone you love!

daddy, daughter, fun, chores, sharing, trying new things, bonding, quality time, compromise, comfort zone, hammering fences, sock wars, defying gender roles and behavior, cultural, acculturated, to do list, fairness, caring  daddy, daughter, fun, chores, sharing, trying new things, bonding, quality time, compromise, comfort zone, hammering fences, sock wars, defying gender roles and behavior, cultural, acculturated, to do list, fairness, caring


  • CLEL Bell Award List in the Talk Category, 2017
  • Children’s Book of the Month Club Main Selection, July 2016
  • Literary Classics Seal of Approval
  • Maine Chickadee Children’s Choice Picture Book Award List, 2017-2018
  • Nebraska Golden Sower Picture Book Award List, 2018-2019
  • Tennessee Volunteer State Book Awards K-3 List, 2018-2019
  • Mississippi Magnolia Children’s Choice Award PreK-2 List, 2018 


  • From Kirkus Reviews – STARRED REVIEW
    When Darcy’s best friend cancels their play date due to illness, her dad saves the day in style. Darcy-Daddy Day entails doing one item from Daddy’s list followed by one item from Darcy’s, until both lists are done. Darcy isn’t sure about this plan, but Daddy is game, jumping in with both feet to humor his princess: when it’s Dress Up time, he asks, “Were you thinking fancy or super fancy?” And the result is Daddy sporting jeans, a plaid shirt, and a pink tutu. Before the day is done, he also finds himself in a headband and with black nail polish, having mastered manicures. But he’s not the only one to try new things. Darcy mows the lawn (actually, she rides on the mower while dad mows her name in the grass), does laundry (aka a sock fight and matching socks), and, biggest accomplishment of all, hammers nails in the fence that protects her castle. “‘You were great with that hammer.’ // ‘And Daddy—you were great with these nails.’” Warrick’s watercolor and digital paint illustrations marvelously play up the dichotomybetween the burly, tutu-clad white dad and his girly, white daughter, purse full of tools over her shoulder and tiara on her head. And these chores are certainly ones that readers will want to emulate. Kudos to this dad for not only making chores fun and making the most of time with his daughter, but for meeting her on her level. –Kirkus, starred review

From School Library Journal
Celebrating the bond between an exuberant father and his young daughter, Bledsoe presents a warmhearted picture book about an unusual day the two spend together combining what both like best. …While the relationship between a father and daughter can be special, Bledsoe presents the atypical premise of what it means to compromise the radically different interests of both. Warrick’s expressive full-color illustrations perfectly express this theme in a comical way. Big Daddy, for instance, is represented as a brawny he-man and yet is willing to look silly in a tutu for his “princess.” Further, he forgoes the practical task of washing and folding laundry by playing a messy game of throw and catch the socks with his daughter. Darcy is also willing to help with the household chores given a little guidance. There are fewer stories about the father-daughter relationship than the mother-daughter one, making this book an especially unique find, ideal for sharing. The concept of compromise is as worthwhile as the idea that “sometimes things you’ve never done end up being fun.” VERDICT A unique picture book that is best shared by a father and daughter and is well worth being read more than once.

From Booklist
Bledsoe’s picture-book debut will pull at readers’ heartstrings as it relates the many activities of Darcy and her father’s “Darcy- Daddy Day.” Indeed, their eccentricities and father-daughter love come alive as they together take turns completing items on each of their to-do lists—giggling, gabbing, and grinning all the while. From dress up (spoiler: Daddy flaunts a pink tutu!) and creative lawn mowing to hairstyling and laundry folding, this dynamic duo will make readers smile, laugh, and want to spend time with (or simply hug) a loved one. Their vibrant personalities are matched by Warrick’s silly illustrations. A delightful two-page spread captures their appreciation and enjoyment of each other’s company; the pair are depicted at the breakfast table, each sporting glasses and quietly reading a section of the paper—Daddy while sipping his cup o’ joe, and Darcy slurping chocolate milk through a crazy straw as she pores over the comics. This spunky, relatable read offers a heartwarming look at the bond between fathers and their daughters.  —Annie Miller

From Publisher’s Weekly
…Newcomer Bledsoe creates a humorous and relatable portrait of compromise and familial affection, while Warrick’s watercolors strike a lovely balance between burliness and daintiness.

From Children’s Literature
Hammer and Nails shows how special a relationship between a father and daughter can be. In the story, Darcy has big plans with her friend for Saturday. Her dad has a big list of chores to do. When Darcy’s friend cancels their play date Darcy and her daddy end up deciding to accomplish everything on their to-do lists together. They take turns doing something from the other’s list, and they each learn to compromise through this. As Daddy and Darcy are working together, they each make the things on their to-do lists fun for the other. They collaborate and use their strengths to help out each other. Daddy and Darcy each learn to be flexible. They each do things that scare them when helping each other, but overcome those fears because they love each other. At the end of the day, Daddy and Darcy are tired out and closer than ever before. Reviewer: Laura Dekle; Ages 7 to 10. —Laura Dekle

From CLC Children’s Literary Classics Reviews – Seal of Approval
Author Josh Bledsoe’s preciously penned book is perfectly paired with adorable illustrations by Jessica Warrick, which are the ultimate finishing touch for this priceless children’s book. Highly recommended for home and school libraries, Hammer and Nails, by Josh Bledsoe, earns the Literary Classics Seal of Approval.

From New York Parenting
…required reading for Father’s Day. …tells the story of how Daddy and his daughter, Darcy, combine his list of chores with her plans for a scuttled play date to make a lovely day together. Each of them ventures beyond their comfort zones as Darcy wields a hammer, and Daddy plays nail salon. (Of course, Dad also makes sure they squeeze in a nap!) Jessica Warwick’s illustrations bring depth and humor to the charming story. It’s easy for parents to get caught up in tackling to-do lists, but Bledsoe gently reminds his adult readers that slowing down to teach our kids how to accomplish tasks — and opening our hearts so we can learn from them — is time well spent.

From Bayview
When Darcy’s friend gets sick on the day of their playdate, Daddy saves the day by suggesting a Darcy-Daddy Day, in which they take turns choosing activities for the two of them to share. Warrick’s watercolor-and-digital paint illustrations portray a doting light-skinned father and his spunky daughter with no mention of a mother. Over the course of the day, Darcy and Daddy both learn the importance of compromise and trying new things, and readers will appreciate the obvious respect and love the pair has for one another. Warrick’s energetic illustrations work well with Bledsoe’s humorous text, especially when Daddy remarks to Darcy that he’s looking forward to playing dress-up because his “PJs are so unfashionable.” Fun endpapers featuring hammers and bottles of nail polish complete this warm tale.

From Omazing Kids
This book is filled with great examples of “flexible thinking” and discussing options. Lots of … taking turns, trying new things, silliness/humor and showing that even chores like mowing, laundry or fixing a fence can be fun if you use your imagination and are working together.

From Chapter 16
Nashville children’s author Josh Bledsoe celebrates fatherhood with his debut picture book. …brings readers a gender-bending day of adventure between a father and his daughter in Hammer and Nails, his debut picture book illustrated by Jessica Warrick. Young Darcy is disappointed when a play date with her best friend is cancelled. But in swoops her father to recommend a Darcy- Daddy Day. His idea: each of them will submit a list of preferred activities, and they will tackle the to-do items as a team. Darcy isn’t sure her father will like her list, but they forge ahead anyway. “Give me a chance!” he tells her. Playing dress-up, tending to the princess while simultaneously managing to get the lawn mowed (Her Majesty’s Mowing Service to the rescue!), donning his daughter’s pink tutu, and the game of Hair Salon are no problem for Darcy’s father, who isn’t at all reluctant to let his feminine side show in the name of fun. Warrick’s expressive illustrations, rendered via watercolors and digital paints, aren’t afraid to go for big laughs: in their salon game, Daddy ends up with an Elvis-esque pompadour, complete with a purple hair ribbon and a giant smile on his face. Later, when it’s time to do their nails—after Darcy assists with the other kind of nails, as she helps fix the fence in their yard—her father goes for a bold Lumberjack Black shade for his manicure. This is all to Darcy’s great delight, even though she has to wait patiently as Daddy stops for “ice packs and a royal rest” in the middle of their rambunctious day of imaginative play. The heart of this sweet but never cloying story is the love between parent and child. Darcy’s father gives it his all, never once turning down a game in the name of traditional gender roles—a refreshing thing to see in picture books. When Darcy, who’s accustomed to more delicate play, hesitates to use a hammer for the fence work, her father tells her that “sometimes things you’ve never done end up being fun.” Darcy nails the hammer thing, and Daddy nails a day of loving and energetic bonding with his daughter—even if Darcy has to give him the same advice about trying new things when he doesn’t immediately warm to the idea of nail polish. It’s a win-win for all. Bledsoe’s fluid dialogue keeps the story moving at a brisk and entertaining pace. This tale could easily be too saccharine in tone, but the author strikes just the right balance of affection and humor. Father’s Day is nigh, and Hammer and Nails is a good holiday choice for daddies and daughters. But a story this endearing can be enjoyed any time of year. — Jules Danielson

From Kid Lit Reviews
…Hammer and Nails is a perfect Father’s Day book. Dads are not represented in picture books as they should, usually being the one out of the house for the day. Hammer and Nails takes a day and turns it on its heels. Mom? She’s out of the picture. It is all Daddy and Darcy, all day. Both must do things they never envisioned themselves doing—hammering and painting nails. Daddy expresses the perfect attitude, telling his daughter, “Princess, sometimes things you’ve never done end up being fun.” Darcy takes Daddy’s hammer in hand and learns to fix a fence—securing Darcy’s castle—finding hammering to be a fun activity. When it is time for Daddy to paint nails, Darcy returns his philosophy. Should dads ever need instructions on how to spend the day with their daughter, Hammer and Nails fits the bill. In watercolors and digital paint, Warrick’s illustrations capture the “Darcy-Daddy Day” perfectly…. Hammer and Nails shows compromise and compassion, along with spirit and sensitivity. Bledsoe never hammers in his message, instead letting his two characters show us how creativity and willingness to “simply be” with your kids can brighten both you and your child’s day. Darcy and Daddy happily enjoy their day, sometimes confused, sometimes unsure, but always with the perfect spirit. Hammer and Nails is a terrific book to share with dad on his day.

From Midwest Book Review
Hammer and Nails is a lighthearted bow to Father/Daughter days and lasting memories of fabulous fun with reaching towards each other’s worlds. Darcy began her day with grave disappointment because her playdate plans with her best friend were canceled due to illness. Daddy overheard Darcy’s disappointment and offered a creative alternative: Why not combine their to-do lists and take turns doing things from each other’s lists until everything gets done? Comedy abounds as this loving father and daughter take steps into each other’s favorite activities and guess what? Both of them end up having a wonderful day! Kids will laugh at Daddy in a tutu, carefully mowing the lawn to say DARCY. It is her castle, after all. The best thing of all is, both Darcy and Daddy try out each other’s ideas and have fun learning together. Doing laundry becomes a brave sock battle, and dancing to celebrate is hilarious for both! Darcy even tackles pounding nails on the board fence, and Daddy actually achieved a classy, fancy manicure and pedicure, with Lime-a-Bean Green for Darcy’s nails and Lumberjack Black for Daddy’s nails. In the end, Darcy thanks her dad for Darcy-Daddy Day, and they sincerely compliment one another on their new found skills! “Hammer and Nails!” is great entertainment and also great modeling for dads and daughters who just might enjoy hanging out together.

From Kids Book Buzz
I absolutely adored Hammer and Nails. I have actually read it every night since it came in the mail. I love the illustrations, they tell so much to the story. I liked that Darcy is able to help her daddy with all his chores and I love that her Daddy even wears a tutu all day. I think other kids would love to read Hammer and Nails as much as I do. –Reviewed by Jewel, age 8

From The Corner on Character blog
Written by Josh Bledsoe and aptly titled Hammer and Nails, this adorable adventure begins as disappointed Darcy discovers that her playdate plans have gone kaput. In walks her doting Dad, who seems willing to do just about anything (including donning a tutu!) to turn his daughter’s day around. And though his offer for a Darcy-Daddy Day is initially met with some skepticism (exactly what’s on his to-do list anyway?), Darcy decides to give it a go. And is she ever glad she did! Their playdate starts when the two connect over coffee (and chocolate milk!) and ends with a new appreciation for the everyday things that make each other tick. Jessica Warrick’s brilliant illustrations sweeten the story to endear its readers to this darling daddy-daughter duo. As for its eSPAcially clever ending?
Nailed it. —Barbara Gruener

From the kidpeopleclassroom
For the teacher or parent who keeps an eye out for learning opportunities, this delightful book is full of them. Dealing with disappointment, being flexible, trying new things, and making the mundane events of life FUN, are all underlying themes in the book. I can think of lots of times in the classroom and in family life when this book would have extra appeal: Father’s Day; as a baby gift inscribed with “Think of the good times ahead;” or as a gift for a daughter from a Papa who shares this approach to life. When I read this one to my class, before they ever saw it, I asked what a book called Hammer and Nails might be about. Construction, of course. Then I asked them again when I showed them the cover. Hmmm. Then I asked a third time after we read it. That lead to a discussion of the meanings of nail and what a homonym was. Common Core standard on word meanings – nailed! (snort).

From Puget Sound Reviews
The joyous watercolor and digital illustrations show a happy flannel-shirted dad, with his princessy daughter enjoying activities together. This is a delightful book that will tickle children who love spending quality time with Dad.

The Children’s Book Review interview with Josh Bledsoe

About the Creators

josh, bledsoe, daddy, daughter, fun, chores, sharing, trying new things, bonding, quality time, compromise, comfort zone, hammering fences, sock wars, defying gender roles and behavior, cultural, acculturated, to do list, fairness, caring, hammer and nailsJosh Bledsoe is the author of Hammer and Nails, illustrated by Jessica Warrick, which encapsulates many of the things he loves about life: family time, a good cup of coffee, and impromptu living room dance parties. In addition to loving his job as an elementary school teacher, Josh enjoys trying to keep up with his Cross Country team on training runs, fishing with his best friends, and laughing on the couch with his beautiful wife. Josh considers himself a lucky man. Between his own two children and his “other” children (a flock of fun-loving fifth graders), inspiration for writing is everywhere. He is currently working on two middle grade novels, in addition to other picture book titles. Josh lives in Nashville, TN. Hammer and Nails is his first picture book.


jessica, warrick, hammer and nails, daddy, daughter, fun, chores, sharing, trying new things, bonding, quality time, compromise, comfort zone, hammering fences, sock wars, defying gender roles and behavior, cultural, acculturated, to do list, fairness, caringJessica Warrick is the illustrator of Hammer and Nails, written by Josh BledsoeAs a child, Jessica drew funny, somewhat inappropriate pictures for her friends at recess. Watching people laugh at her creations was her favorite activity, thus igniting an infatuation with illustration. In the past, she has worked as a muralist, cashier, grocery bagger, cookie decorator, dog and cat kennel attendant, landscape nursery worker, receptionist, data entry specialist, pizza delivery driver, overnight shelf stocker, and t-shirt printing intern. Today, she works as a full-time artist specializing in humorous children’s book illustration from her home studio. Hammer and Nails is Jessica’s third book. You can read more on Jessica’s blog or personal website.

Book Details

ISBN: HC 9781936261369 / ePDF 9781936261482 / EPUB 9781936261833 / KF8 9781936261840
Print Length: 32 Full Color Pages
Publication Date: Spring 2016
Age Group: 4-8
Lexile Measure: 650L
Word Count:

Activity Guides & More

THEMES: daddy/daughter, fun chores, sharing, trying new things