things I love about this picture book

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30 DAYS OF PB 2013 aDay Seventeen: All the Things I Love About You

by LeUyen Pham

Balzer + Bray, 2010.

all the things i love about you coverAll the Things I Love About You reads like love letter from a mother to her young child, in which she tells him all the ways she loves him. LeUyen Pham dedicates the book especially: “For all those many mamas who love their little boys, this book is just for you.”

My eyes may have welled up at least twice; which is an achievement easily attributed to the picture book because I had just finished an assigned reading and discussion on “The Canon’s Yeoman’s Tale” beforehand. I was so moved by All the Things I Love About You, that I may have let an expletive slip; which is how I tend to punctuate that simultaneity of awe and incredible envy. Fortunately, the daughter was downstairs being 13, probably listening to someone else’s less holy expletive slip.

All the Things I Love About You is beautiful. It isn’t precious and it won’t make the teeth ache. It will be heart-warming and deep-sighing, because LeUyen Pham does not hit one false note. Her sense of humor and impeccable timing helps. She’ll places especially funny moments among the affectionate smiles and those sentiments that catch your heart in your throat. There is this wonderful build-up of emotion using a compound sentence spread across three double-page spreads at the end. Your heart and lungs fill up and then you find there is room for just one more breathe. However, said breathe will not be with you long, because Pham leaves us with the most agreeable ending: the truth these kinds of love letters want to be sure their child understands.

There are a lot of familiar childhood activities, and yet you needn’t identify specifically with each and every thing the mother loves about her child in the book. For instance, N never “skip[ped] the letter “Y” in the alphabet because “Z” [was] so much fun to say.” But it does find correlations. Actually, that is the only part I couldn’t place Natalya’s round-cheeked visage. Natalya was the cutest little bug in her fuzzy footy-pajamas!

The colors, textures, lines, energy, movement, expression (face/body)–I tend to go on about how much I appreciate Pham’s skill as an illustrator. I love her work and I do not think it bias to suggest that her work is highly accessible (read: appealing) to everyone. Her use of the white page focuses attention on legible illustrations and directs their sequence and scale. It does the same for the text. Not only will the adult reader see recognize the mother and child (and father) on the page, but so with the little one(s) snuggling close–if you’ve caught them into stillness (there is a lot of running and chasing in the book, too).

After I finished the book and decided on love not hate (after my moment of envy). I had this immediate and overwhelming urge to buy out Powell’s supply (all 16 copies) and distribute this  book to each parent of a young child that I know (or don’t) until I run out. At $15.00 each, I will be limited in purchases for family (blood relative or no); children whom I will no doubt be reminded that they are all in (at least) grade school now. Hmmm, I may need to get Logan’s new address, Callum isn’t in college yet, is he?

{browse inside of book here}

Mary Harris Russell, briefly reviewing this book for the Chicago Tribune (in 2010) writes,

Many “I-love-you” books emphasize a cute and quiet newborn bundle, snuggled up close. LeUyen Pham shows early on that quietly cute isn’t on the list. “I love the way your hair looks in the morning,” the narrator says, and the picture shows a jaunty boy with spiky hair. This little boy is in action, wrestling out of clothes, holding hands or running off. The pages remind us that the story isn’t just what the boy does; it’s how his mother experiences him. […]The child grows – literally speeding across the pages – but so does his mother’s love.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Jeanie March says:

    This looks like a great book for grandma to give to her granddaughter.

thoughts? would love to hear them...

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