15 January 2018

Book Review: Love by Matt de la Peña, illustrated by Loren Long

Although this book is just published this week, I had the privilege a few months ago of listening to Newbery award-winning author Matt de la Peña and beloved illustrator of the Otis books Loren Long talk about their collaboration.  Their new book, Love, was a headliner for one of the breakfasts during the New England Independent Booksellers Association (NEIBA), and I think it’s safe to say there was nary a dry eye in the room by the time they concluded.

I don’t usually review picture books on this blog, but this is not your typical picture book. First, you’ve got the street cred (and literary cred) of this dynamic duo. Second, it’s a book that speaks directly to the fears and frustrations that have gripped our country since #45 was elected. Third, the subtext of this book is simply this: love is love is love.

Each full page spread speaks to a different demographic of America: the urban, the rural, the haves, the have-nots, the lonely, the contented, the single-parent and the multi-generational family. The thoughtful illustrations are lush with color and emotion, not shy about straying into darker interpretations of the text.

There’s been some chatter on the internet this week about an article in Time magazine by children’s book author extraordinaire, Kate DiCamillo called “Why Children’s Books Should Be a Little Sad,” and in in the context of both children’s classic Charlotte’s Web, she says, “In loving the world, he [E. B. White] told the truth about it -- its sorrow, its heartbreak, its devastating beauty. He trusted his readers enough to tell them the truth, and with that truth came comfort and a feeling that we are not alone.” Her words speak just as deeply to Love, a picture book that shows kids the different ways that love may manifest itself in their lives -- but also how it might leave their lives and break their hearts before they realize that it can also make them stronger.

My two favorite page spreads are these:

"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 tastes like love.

And the face staring back
in the bathroom mirror --
this, too, is love.

I think this lovely picture book will soon be taking its place among the pantheon of children’s picture book classics. It’s simple, but ultimately it’s revolutionary, too. Every library, be it school, public, or home library, should proudly cherish this addition. If ever a picture book could change a child’s life, I think this is the one.


  1. Thank you! I just ordered this for my niece and nephew :)

  2. My days of reading children's picture books are over but the books I loved reading to my son when he was at that age were the ones that went a little deeper. Maybe the only thing I look forward to about the grandma age I'm fast approaching would be reading to my grandkids! This sounds like one to file away for those days.

  3. Just requested a copy from my library. I plan on reading this to the kids I teach at Sunday school. Love is love is love, indeed.

    1. I’d be surprised if the author and/or illustrator didn’t do a bookstore in the Twin Cities. Maybe you can catch it in person!

  4. I visited your blog today to read your trip report of Bequia as were are visiting there next month.
    I am delighted to see you are back to book reviews! I always find several to add to my reading list and I think my eldest daughter would like "Love" for her pre-school class.
    Best wishes for 2018.

    1. Oooh, Bequia! I’d like to get back there one day. The food ain’t nothin compared to Anguilla but there’s a real warmth there that may put you in mind of visiting Anguillians.


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