'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Monday 21 May 2018

Guest Post: Melanie H Fortin Review: Love

Unlike some of the young adult and picture books he (Matt de la Pena) has previously written, we are not following a young Mexican boy. Instead, we are witnesses of the expression of love through the eyes of children, family members, bystanders, victims, and characters who don’t even know that they are being watched or noticed.
The diverse world we live in is depicted through the illustrations, which includes but is not limited to Hispanics, Muslims, the young, the elderly, people living in trailer parks, and city streets filled with children enjoying fire hydrants spraying cool water on a hot summer day.

De la Peña seems to want to remind us that we all experience hurt, tragedy, grief, nightmares, and discomfort. Although not explicit, these thoughts are conveyed through the illustrations and the descriptions of feelings common to all humankind. However, more importantly, the author wants to emphasize that in the end, what remains is love.

Love, is beautifully written and illustrated. The rhythmic text and gentle words convey compassion and well, love. The author succeeded in making us feel like we are there, whether it be riding in the bumpy backseat of a cab or freezing with shock in front of the television when we witness horrible, live international news.

On the other hand, what makes this book such a joy to read, could also be confusing and frightening for some children. Parents and teachers should be prepared to provide guidance and explain certain concepts that would be difficult for little ones to grasp. It addresses certain abstract ideas that are more suitable for a more mature crowd. 

On the other hand, it could be an appropriate book for round-table discussions or a precursor to writer’s workshop in upper elementary and middle school grades. It is a perfect teaching tool to impress students with core values and the art of reading between the lines.  
De la Peña’s message is clear. Everything is love and love connects us all, a universal bond comes to us in countless forms. Love is everyone’s story regardless of skin color, socio-economic status or religious beliefs. 

In these trying times where one needs to look no further than the daily news to attest to our country’s great divide, Matt de la Peña’s book is a breath of fresh air. He soothes us with his comforting words and his book is an invitation to reflect for children and adults alike.

Title: Love
Author: Matt de la Peña
Illustrator: Loren Long
Publisher: Putnam Publishing Group,US, $ 34.99
Publication Date: January 2018
Format: Hard Back
ISBN: 9781524740917
For ages: 5+
Type: Picture Book

Melanie H Fortin is a freelance writer and ESL consultant, hailing from Connecticut in the USA. 

Visit her at www.melaniehfortin.com