Love is Love is Love is Love
Sometimes a controversy drives me to read a book, sometimes it drives me to stay away. And sometimes if there is too much 'hype' surrounding a book, I will also stay away.
Because February is an excellent month to theme with books about LOVE, many people have been talking about the picture book, Love, by Matt De La Pena and illustrated by Loren Long.
I thought Love was a beautiful and inclusive ode to the many ways that we see love in our every day. What I loved most was how tactile everything felt in the story. De La Pena spun his words so I could see every image in my mind—besides what was on the page—and what's more I could feel the scent in the air, hear the music notes being played. I could feel the tugging in my heartstrings of every moment. Because even though I haven't lived each of those moments, I could relate to every single one.
It's a hard task to accomplish in a picture book, but Matt De La Pena does it well. And with such finesse that I read the book over and over again, without my little ones asking me to.
On top of that Loren Long's illustrations are vibrant and just as full of life as De La Pena's words.
Love is a journey, and a beautiful one at that.
Several months ago I read the article ("Why Children's Books Should Be a Little Sad") by Kate DiCamillo defending Matt De La Pena--I read this article without having yet read Love or without reading what Matt De La Pena had written in the first place. And what touched me was how DiCamillo talked about a student coming up to her after a school visit and thanking her. What was he thanking her for? For sharing her story. And letting him know it was okay.
In a world where our kids are growing up with social media, where people tend to post the more flattering, lovely parts to life, I wonder if our kids are growing up feeling more alone than ever. I have bright and sensitive kids. I remember being just like them when I was growing up. Sometimes feeling alone even though I had many friends. Feeling like life was unfair even though, looking back, I had nothing to complain about.
So I wonder if other kids feel that way--that they can't express themselves or feel different. The honesty in Love and in DiCamillo's article was so refreshing and heartfelt. This time I'm glad that I didn't let the controversy keep me away from reading a good book. And, as I was writing this very post, I finally sat down to read what De La Pena wrote in the first place that prompted DiCamillo's response. I was moved beyond words and I'm happy that I read Love before I read what he wrote defending his (and Loren Long's) decision to keep the illustration in the picture book because I read the book without bias with Little Lion (age 7 now). And she didn't question any of the images.
These two writers make me proud to be part of the Kidlit community, even though I am as yet unpublished. Because their strength and heart in their own writing inspires me to be true to my own characters in my own writing. They shared some special moments that they had with kids, and I'm lucky to have those type of moments myself, even if they are sometimes quieter. Every day I am happy to work with kids and to play a small part of their lives and to see these small yet important moments.
Finally, as I was reading this book, I was reminded of Lin-Manuel Miranda's acceptance speech for one of his Tony awards for Hamilton. I only recently saw that speech as the girls and I were searching for videos. And I admit that I swooned at the fact that he wrote his speech as a sonnet to his wife. The lasting refrain? Love is Love is Love is Love is Love.
Tell Dr. Bookworm!
How do you see love in your everyday?