How do you capture love and all of its various permutations on the page, let alone make it palatable for young readers? Somehow, Pena and illustrator Loren Long are able to do both in this book. As a collection of poems about the titular emotion, this book is successful because de la Pena is a good writer and a great observer who documents love in all its forms; from a baby hearing his parents’ voices to a child looking in the mirror. The poem dances on the precipice of precious but sticks the landing. And even if you think love is a battlefield, the illustration by Loren Long will soften you enough to let this one in.
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Creating stories for the youngest book-lover is not child's play. The best books have similar traits. Life-affirming messages pitched appropriately for this audience, in a way that engages, while bringing out the best in an older reader. When it all comes together the result is a book that transcends age. We feel these are the best of the best. (Many of these are available as "board books.")