________________ CM . . . . Volume XI Number 11 . . . .February 4, 2005


I Already Know I Love You.

Billy Crystal. Illustrated by Elizabeth Sayles.
New York, NY: HarperCollins (Distributed by HarperCollins Canada), 2004.
32 pp., cloth, $19.99.
ISBN 0-06-059391-1.

Subject Headings:
Stories in rhyme.

Preschool-grade 1 / Ages 3-6.

Review by Valerie Nielsen.

*1/2 /4



I'm waiting to see you in ballet shoes or is it football pads?

To listen to your music and say."It's just a fad." I'm waiting to meet

your boyfriends or hear you say, "she's the one." Oh, unborn child, this

wait is getting fun! I want to read you poems and get postcards from

afar. I can't believe I'm writing this 'cause I don't know who you are.

internal artBilly Crystal, well known comedian and film star introduces his picture book on the joys of anticipated grandfatherhood by decorating the endpapers with the above piece of writing. Each of the double page spreads in I Already Know I Love You focuses on an experience or activity that Grandpa Billy expects to share with or teach his as yet unborn granddaughter. (Although the verse at the beginning admits the possibility of a male grandchild, the little one on every page is depicted as a girl.) Elizabeth Sayles' charming illustrations are done in soft pastels, appropriate for decorating a nursery.

     Although the pictures are appealing, the text is a good deal less so - a four to eight line stanza in an "abcb" rhyme scheme appears on each double page. Unlike the words on the end papers, the lines are set out in verse form with some variation of length in an attempt to make them scan well enough for reading aloud.

I'm waiting to show you everything,
hear your giggles and your sighs,
see butterflies and monkeys
and clowns who cross their eyes.

     Children love rhymes, and Crystal's effort to set his feelings about becoming a grandfather to verse is understandable. Unfortunately, too much reaching after rhymes combined with a shaky grasp of rhythm results in a text which is closer to doggerel than it is to poetry. The list of marvelous things which Billy Crystal plans to do with his granddaughter-to-be tells the reader a good deal more about the author than it does about the grandchild/grandparent relationship. It is difficult to determine for whom this book is intended. I Already Know I Love You is unlikely to strike a responsive chord in young children, and older readers will tend to see it as self-serving and sentimental rather than genuinely reflective or insightful. This one could be given a miss by school librarians.

Not Recommended.

Valerie Nielsen, herself a grandmother, is a retired teacher-librarian who lives in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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