Five Picture Books That Celebrate Many Kinds of Love

From quirky to sweet, these five books celebrate many kinds of love, all year-round. 

From quirky to sweet, these five books celebrate many kinds of love, all year-round.

Bright, Rachel. Slug in Love. illus. by ­Nadia Shireen. 32p. S. & S./Paula ­Wiseman. Dec. 2021. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781665900461.
K-Gr 2–Doug the slug is in desperate need of a hug. But who will give him one? The ant says he’s too “grimy, slippy” and the spider thinks he is “icky mucky.” The worm feels that he is too “squelchy, slimy” and the bug thinks he is “yucky, sticky!” Even the snail, who is a lot like Doug, will not give him what he is looking for. What is a poor slug to do? The answer comes in the form of an unexpected friend, at an unexpected time. This funny picture book is a great reminder that friends come in all shapes and sizes. Using a bold palette that changes as Doug’s feelings evolve, the illustrations really takes center stage. The animals are created using simple shapes, but the careful details in the eyes and lips add humor and character. The use of comic panels and dialogue bubbles is easy for young readers to navigate. The text relies on spare language and “feeling” words that will expand vocabulary. Rhyming couplets are used throughout, but not consistently; that might be most noticeable when reading aloud. VERDICT A succinct tale with a strong message about friendship, this book makes a nice addition to most K–2 collections.–Louie Lauer

Brown, Meredith Crandall. Milk and Juice: A Recycling Romance. illus. by Meredith Crandall Brown. 32p. HarperCollins/Harper. Dec. 2021. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780063021853.
PreS-Gr 3 –In her picture book debut, Brown creates a love story that involves two refrigerator staples. The charming tale begins with the introduction of Milk and Juice in their refrigerator home. Tragically, they are separated by a well-meaning child just completing his recycling chores. Milk, in its various embodiments, treks around the world in search of Juice. Milk and Juice are recycled into various items until they are at last utilized together as plastic for a bench, where they will remain forever. Brown’s whimsical illustrations pair delightfully with the fairy-tale tone and appearance of the book. Brown refrains from gendering the main characters, allowing broad accessibility to the story. ­VERDICT Charismatic illustrations and text pair beautifully for a love story with an earth-friendly twist in this excellent addition to a collection of environmental selections for young readers.–Brittany McMahon

Davies, Becky. I Love You More Than Ice Cream. illus. by Lala Watkins. 32p. Tiger Tales. Feb. 2022. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781680102710.
PreS-K –The “I love you more than” game gets fanciful treatment in this bright and bubbly bedtime book. A young narrator takes us through her bedtime routine each night of the week with a different caregiver: Mom, Dad, Grandma, Grandpa, and even the family dog—for whom she takes on the role of caregiver. The rhyming, repetitive prose showcases imagination and silliness through a familiar set of rituals every child will recognize: “Mommy loves me more than doughnuts dancing in high heels/ But I reply ‘I love you more than pizza Ferris Wheels.’” Other family members imagine dinosaurs and aliens, dancing animals, pirates and narwhals, castles and superheroes. Watkins’s colorful illustrations pop off the page and bring the elaborate scenarios to life, including “dinosaurs in ballroom dresses sewn in stars” and “a conga line with happy, dancing cats” among others. Her depiction of color and motion combined with the exuberance of Davies’s text accurately evoke the energy of a kid at that time of night. VERDICT A perfect book to be savored again and again in the lap of a loved one, this delightful story deserves a place on most library shelves.–Kristy Pasquariello

Hepworth, Amelia. I Love You Forever and a Day. illus. by Tim Warnes. 32p. ­Tiger Tales. Feb. 2022. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781680102604.
PreS-K –This sweetly illustrated story is about a wonderful day in which an adult and a baby bear imagine how to spend time together doing all sorts of things. They envision the start of the day with warm sunshine and blue skies and the end of the day closing with a loving and sleepy good night. The youngest readers will enjoy the limited amount of text on each page and rhyming structure of the story that makes evident the joyful interaction of parent and child. Brightly colored and detailed pictures offer readers the opportunities for oral language development by naming objects and animals on each page. VERDICT An adorable, loving story of a parent and child, this is a good choice for libraries seeking to freshen up the bedtime story shelf.–Debbie Tanner

Kris, Deborah Farmer. I Love You All the Time. illus. by Jennifer Zivoin. 32p. Free Spirit. Feb. 2022. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781631985065.
PreS-K –A young child experiences the ups and downs of everyday life while hearing the soothing refrain “I love you all the time” from his caregivers. Riding his bike; crashing his bike; feeling sad, mad, and scared; making and cleaning up messes; sleeping and not sleeping; the message is the same: unconditional love. The warm watercolor and pencil illustrations add even more comfort to the sweet and lilting rhythm of the story. Young readers will also enjoy the mischievous cat that makes frequent appearances in the illustrations. An author’s note explains the inspiration for the book and offers four specific ideas for helping children feel loved and lovable. Kris uses realistic examples of how to put this advice into practice in helpful and realistic ways. ­VERDICT Though not particularly original in concept, the book presents enough advice and reassurance to make it a worthwhile additional purchase.–Kristy Pasquariello

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