The Boy Who Loved Everyone

Candlewick. Jan. 2021. 32p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781536211238.
Toddler-PreS–Enthusiastic about the first day of preschool, Dimitri, a boy with dark brown hair and tan skin, snuggles up with new classmate Liam at story time and tells him he loves him. The boy doesn’t respond. Dimitri continues to tell others that he loves them, including the lunch lady, his teacher, the class guinea pig, the ants at recess, and a scruffy man in the park on the way home from school. He is discouraged when no one says “I love you” in return. Dimitri’s mom, who has darker brown skin than Dimitri, describes how everyone has their own way of expressing love and “even if they don’t say it back or show it, they feel it.” As the two walk to school the next morning, Dimitri’s mom draws attention to the unique ways that love is expressed through sharing food, warm embraces, and friendly waves each day. The story illustrates diversity in race and ethnicity, especially among Dimitri’s classmates. Dimitri’s teacher has darker brown skin than Dimitri, and long braided gray hair, and the teacher’s classroom aide wears a head covering. Leaves fallen upon the ground, characters bundled in chunky scarves and sweaters, and a generous infusion of yellows and reds into each mixed-media illustration combine for a tender story of a child full of love learning the many ways it can be expressed.
VERDICT This snug lesson complements the many stories of shy children coping with their emotions in new environments. A loving tale.

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