The most wonderful thing about picture
books has always been the lessons they teach.
It is the way they open little hearts and minds to new feelings and
thoughts, the way they reveal truths with a quiet ease. And lately, we have been in a real golden age
of storytelling for our littlest readers.
Now is a time when more authors and illustrators are realizing the power
in their work, the ways they can help children to develop a deeper understanding
and greater compassion through art. A beautiful
example of this is the new picture book Love by Matt de la Peña and Loren Long.
We’ve had Matt de la Peña on our
radar since the stunning Last Stop on
Market Street. Both stories depict the many ways we can view
the world around us, and how to do so with a kind and gentle heart. Love takes this message one step further,
inviting readers to take a closer look at the very idea of love and how
something we often take for granted can be found everywhere, all around, throughout
each moment in the landscape of a life.
Love is sincere in its message from the first page. It is a heartfelt journey through small towns
and big cities, lonely dreams and joyous celebrations. It discusses the idea that love is not just a
feeling, but the people and places that become home. Loren Long’s illustrations craft each scene
with such detail and care that it is easy to apprehend meaning in the slope of each
stroke. The art at times even deepens the
material, constructing a world that offers a detailed look at the many facets
and properties of love.
And when tackling the tougher
aspects of this emotion, Love doesn’t
flinch. It is a book that illustrates
all sides of the thing, even the parts that are darker and more difficult to
name. But in many ways, this is the most
vital aspect of the story. In depicting loss
and sadness, Love creates the
opportunity for children of all backgrounds to see themselves and their own
histories on the page. It says, with earnest
candor, ‘I see you. You are not alone.’ The importance of this, of allowing children
to feel seen, of allowing children to feel,
is limitless. Love does so with an authenticity and grace that is remarkable, gripping
and, above all else, powerful.
In a recent interview with Time
Magazine, Matt de la Peña says, “That’s why I write books. Because the little story I’m working
on alone in a room, day after day, might one day give some kid out there an
opportunity to ‘feel.’” And Love does, again and again, but not just
for children. It will call to readers young
and old. It is that rare gem of a book
that has the ability not just to entertain and engage its audience, but to remind
them of the capacity of their hearts.