When I read the challenge by Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch this week to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a love story, I knew immediately that I would share some of my favourite picture books about love.
Of course these are about the love between parent and child, rather than romantic love, and it is from these I have drawn my inspiration. Finding a love angle that I was happy with was the first challenge and, as usual, telling a tale in 99 words was even more so. (I think I need some lessons about telling more in less.) This is my response. I’d love to know what you think.
More than all the stars in the sky
Child waited on the step, counting stars.
Soon the clatter of dishes ceased. Feet padded out.
Child snuggled into warm enveloping arms. The ritual began.
They picked out stars and constellations.
“And Venus,” said Child. “Tell me about the love planet!”
“Well,” began Parent. “Long ago there were two people who loved each other …”
“More than all the stars in the sky,” interjected Child.
“That they wanted a child to love too …”
“So you got me!” said Child.
“Yes.” Parent scooped up the child. “And just as there’ll always be stars …”
”We’ll always love each other!”
Now for the books, each of which is a delight to share with young children, for reading aloud at bedtime, or any time.
Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney (Northern Ireland) and illustrated by Anita Jeram (Northern Ireland) is a beautiful tale of the love between Little Nutbrown Hare and Big Nutbrown Hare. As they try to find a way of describing their love for each other, they find that love is not easy to measure. From this beautiful story comes the classic line “I love you to the moon … and back!”
Love You Forever by Robert Munsch (Canada) and illustrated by Anthony Lewis (U.K.) tells of a mother’s love that lasts a lifetime, a love that is returned by a son and passed on to the next generation through the words of a beautiful song:
“I’ll love you forever.
I’ll like you for always.
As long as I’m living
My baby you’ll be.”
Hey, I Love You by Ian Whybrow (U.K.) and illustrated by Rosie Reeve (U.K.) is about two mice, Small and Big. Before Big goes out to get supper Small shows that he knows what to do to stay safe when Big is away. Unfortunately they forgot to say their special words and Small doesn’t follow the instructions. Fortunately Small was able to catch up to Big without incident. Attention must be paid to the illustrations to see just how lucky that was!
I Love You With All My Heart by Noris Kern is about Polo the Polar Bear who wants to find out the meaning of his mother loving him with all her heart. He asks the other animals how their mothers love them and finally discovers how his mother loves him and that he loves her with all his heart too. (A possible concern with this book is the mix of Arctic and Antarctic animals.)
Koala Lou by Mem Fox (Australia) and illustrated by Pamela Lofts (Australia) tells of Koala Lou who is loved by everybody, especially her mother. Every day her mother would say, “Koala Lou, I DO love you!” But after other koala siblings arrive, Mother Koala doesn’t have time to give Koala Lou the attention she craves. Koala Lou comes up with a plan to hear those special words again.
Koala Lou leads beautifully into my next post which will showcase some books by Mem Fox. I hope you will join me for those.
One last thought:
I wonder what image of the Child, Parent and Family you formed from reading my flash. (I omitted some clues about other family members in the 99 word reduction.) I’d be pleased if you would share your thoughts about this.
You see, I attempted to be inclusive by avoiding specifics about things such as gender, family composition, culture and location. I wondered whether a story could be written so that each reader could interpret it to fit their own situation. Illustration could be difficult, but perhaps worth considering. This attempt to be inclusive was very different from my first thoughts to be specific to Australia, through stars observed, for example, and had nothing to do with my thoughts or opinions of the picture books shared.
However, looking back at the five books with these thoughts in mind, I notice that the relationships portrayed are:
Guess How Much I Love You – father and son
Love You Forever –mother and son
Hey, I Love You – father and son
I Love You With All My Heart – mother and son
Koala Lou – mother and daughter
What do you think? Is it worthwhile to attempt a story of the love between parent and child with an inclusive element, or is it enough that such a variety of books is already available? Do you have any other favourites, or suggestions, on this topic?
Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts about any aspect of this post or flash fiction.