CM . . .
. Volume VIII Number 17 . . . . April 26, 2002
The Love Book takes a playful look at various responses to the feeling we call "love" through a random assortment of thoughts; how it affects us physically and emotionally, how we react to it, who or what we love, how we express it to others. As the cover blurb suggests, the whole business of love is an "overwhelming experience" for any age, so there can be no unequivocal answers here.
The text is brief, but thought-provoking in some instances - "Love is like a gift...you get it for free if someone wants to give it away." Other statements, e.g. "Love can be unfair. It can make bad kids even worse," might be puzzling for young readers, and this book may be best read with an adult to clarify the meanings suggested by the accompanying illustrations. The book is illustrated with child-like cartoon-style drawings intended to add humour and levity. However, the drawings are often more grotesque than funny, especially the caricatures, some of which show insensitivity, e.g. a "yellow" individual with a pigtail to represent a Buddhist ("There's love for God...love for Allah...love for Buddha..."). Parents sharing this book with their kids or school librarians considering it for the shelves should be aware of the graphic, though simplistic, depiction of sexual love. The author also includes a sketchy explanation of the reproductive process; again, the illustrations may confuse kids. The final pages show the familiar symbols of love: cupid, hearts, the colour red, a recipe for a love potion.
The age of the intended audience is unclear. The cover states "(age) 8+, (grade) 3+," though some expressions might be challenging for a younger child reading this alone: "uncalled-for fuss", "too much of a good thing." The book is translated from an original Swedish publication.
Recommended with reservations.
in BC, Gillian Richardson is a former teacher-librarian and a published
writer of children's fiction and nonfiction.
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