What Is Love?

Chronicle. Nov. 2021. 44p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781452176406.
PreS-Gr 2–Sometimes, the simplest question results in the most complex answer. One day, a curious young boy asks his grandmother what love is. Despite her age and life experience, she is unable to adequately reply to his query and ultimately suggests that the boy venture out into the world to discover an answer for himself. Instead of one unanimous response, however, there are many. Every person the boy encounters has a different opinion of the truth—from a fish, to a seed, to the night—ultimately leading the boy to determine his own interpretation of the elusive emotion. This poetic story appeals to a wide range of readers; short, repetitive phrases help young children connect to the text, while the depth of the subject matter resonates with older readers as well. Throughout the book, specific words are emphasized in larger, lyrical font, dramatically standing apart from the rest of the text. Together, the narrative and illustrations are well balanced, enhancing the visual appeal of the book. Created in gouache on watercolor paper, the images vary in detail and intensity, repeating select visuals at the beginning and end in an intentional symmetry that balances light and dark. Much like the message of Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree, the concept of love is ambiguous in general, but clearly defined for each character.
VERDICT Young children and their families will enjoy the blend of silliness and beauty in this memorable depiction of one boy’s quest to learn more about love.

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