Love by Matt de la Peña | SLJ Review

Gr 2-5 –How do we love and care for one another? Award-winning author de la Peña sets out not only to count the ways but also to help young people recognize and take these tender mercies to heart, especially when times are tough and beyond the control of the adults around them.
redstarDE LA PEÑA, Matt. Love. illus. by Loren Long. 40p. Putnam. Jan. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781524740917.

Gr 2-5 –How do we love and care for one another? Award-winning author de la Peña sets out not only to count the ways but also to help young people recognize and take these tender mercies to heart, especially when times are tough and beyond the control of the adults around them. He defines love in multiple sensory images, brilliantly interpreted and expanded upon in evocative mixed media paintings. Long’s use of light and shadow are particularly effective, with love seeming to illuminate and embrace the diverse cast of characters. The spare lyrical text describes the music of parents’ voices at the foot of the bed, the colors of the night sky above a family’s trailer, or the echo of laughter as kids run through summer sprinklers as just a few of the brighter examples. Yet, small kindnesses can come when least expected, on the streets as fire alarms blare or when trusted adults behave badly and all seems lost. Learning to recognize love in the spirit and actions of others and in one’s mirror reflection are among the most important and powerful lessons that life (and this book) can impart. The author ventures that “when the time comes for you to set off on your own,” it isn’t mere luck that will ensure one’s success; it’s the ability to accept and to give love that will make all the difference. VERDICT This heartfelt and sensitively rendered picture book meditation begs to be shared and discussed with children, especially those with the maturity and life experience to appreciate the nostalgic tone and the nonlinear and philosophical musings. Spread the love.––Luann Toth , School Library Journal

This review was published in the School Library Journal January 2018 issue.

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