This book shows love’s many and varied journey through the world. The narrative voice in this book speaks to the child and leads the young reader by the hand to show examples of love that a child may not recognize. The images de la Peña uses to describe love are from the child’s point of view. The very first illustration is from the child’s vantage point in a crib looking up at his/her parents, with the words
In the beginning there is light
and two wide-eyed figures standing at the foot of your bed,
and the sound of their voices is love.
The narrative voice describes the music in the back of the cab driver’s cab, the color of the sky at sunset and playing in summer sprinklers. The narrator says to the child, “the echo of your laughter is love.”
And yet, love is not just in things seen or heard in the natural world, but most importantly, the selfless actions of one human for another. The turning point of this picture book is where Loren Long shows two young boys, perhaps brothers, the elder holding out a piece of toast to his younger brother, where a figure outside the window walks in the snow towards the bus.
Accompanying that illustration are the words:
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.
The full effect of this book is magnificent. Words shine through his gift for lyricism, his finger on the pulse of those small moments that often go unseen, but are, indeed, love.
Love by Matt de la Peña is Lemuria’s January 2018 picture book selection for our First Editions Club for Young Readers.