Sunday, January 7, 2018

Love, by Matt de la Peña and Loren Long: learning to recognize love in ourselves and our world (ages 7-9)

With a poet's eye and a painter's touch, Matt de la Peña and Loren Long have created a picture book that helps us see love in unexpected, everyday moments. With small moments from a diverse cast of characters' lives, this evocative book provides opportunities for us all to think about the intangible feeling of love and learn to recognize it in ourselves.
by Matt de la Peña, illustrated by Loren Long
G.P. Putnam's Sons / Penguin, 2018
Amazon / your local library / Google Books preview
ages 7-9
*best new book*
What is love? Where do we see and feel it? Is it in our parents' voices? Or also in the sounds of the city? Is it in a gift outstretched to a stranger? Or maybe in that brief moment just before sunset?

With lyrical text, de la Peña brings readers from scene to scene, glimpsing love in many different forms, giving weight and color and texture to this abstract idea. Long takes these brief moments and depicts them, not with one character arc but by showing how people from all over find small moments of love in their lives. This means that children from cities, small towns and rural communities will see themselves reflected in these pages.

Take a moment to look at this scene to see how Long expands upon de la Peña's text to show a child creating and expanding a moment of love by giving a hot dog to a stranger. This small act of kindness is a moment of love that a child can play an active part in creating.
"A cabdriver plays love softly on his radio while you bounce in back with the bumps of the city
and everything smells new, and it smells like life."
I think this book will resonate most with children in elementary school, especially in 3rd and 4th grade. They have the life experiences to understand how love can exist in painful family arguments or frightening tragedies. Older children can see how the author and illustrators chose unexpected moments to find love, and what it means to "learn to recognize a love overlooked."
"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."
How do we help our children develop the resilience to push through difficult times? Certainly, recognizing small moments of love helps us all be stronger in our journeys. Even more so, seeing the love within ourselves, and within the world around us fortifies us.

Listen to Matt de la Peña and Loren Long talk about their thoughts as they worked on this special book:

The review copy was kindly sent by the publisher, Penguin Random House. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2018 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

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