(as expressed by students in my elementary school library)
by Matt de la Peña & Loren Long
This is Love, the book by Matt de la Peña, illustrated by Loren Long, as reviewed by me.
Of Love, Matt de la Peña says, "I wanted to write a book about love that I could read to my daughter, but, like everything I write, it morphed into something else. It really became a look at the evolution of love in a child's life. At birth, love is literally handed to them, but it gets more complicated as they grow up. There's pain. There are challenges. I had to acknowledge that."
There are moments of tenderness and joy in Love and there are moments of sadness, tragedy and pain. A boy and his dog hide under a grand piano, an almost empty glass of whisky perched on top, as a woman covers her face on the verso and a man appears to be stumbling off the opposite page. Another page shows a family gathered around a glowing flat screen tv. But, "when you ask what happened, they answer with silence and shift between you and the screen." The illustration immediately calls to mind 9/11. My favorite page, above, reads:
And in time you learn to recognize a love overlooked. A love that wakes at dawn and rides to work on the bus. A slice of burned toast that tastes like love.
With this image and these words, de la Peña and Long capture that moment when children become conscious of the depth and everyday-ness that can be love as well as the love that is the sacrifice of being a parents and wanting to give your children the best life you can.
De la Peña and Long also bring a marvelous diversity to their picture book - cultural and socioeconomic - that I appreciate. It is marvelous to read a book to my students where the characters on almost every page look like them.
Love is inclusive. Love is generous. Love wins.
Source: Review Copy