This Love by Isabel Otter and Harriet Lynas
"It doesn't matter who we are, join hands and stand up tall. Love is a special language, understood by all."
What's it about?
Told in verse, this takes us all around the world and shows us children and families enjoying a variety of activities together. We see them splashing in puddles, throwing snowballs, gardening, learning to ride a bike or simply relaxing and doing whatever it is that makes them happy. The family we meet on the first page appears again in different scenes; in one the mother is visibly pregnant. In the last image, we learn that the baby has been born and this love will spread to another person.
What can we learn?
Love is the universal force that connects everyone on the planet. Children and families all over the world all have shared interests and love in common, and this is what unites us all. Even if we are from another country or look different to one other, we are all the same.
What makes this stand out?
This Love is an attractive, cheerful book with so much warmth and joy on each page. The gentle, elegant text reads like a long poem and it's ideal for winding down at night. I love the illustrations and so do my children, particularly the three-and-a-half-year-old.
About those illustrations...
They're gorgeous; extremely colourful and animated with a child-like simplicity. They look like a mixture of paint and pastels or crayons. Lines and scribbles are visible, giving them a "home-made" quality which may inspire and encourage creativity in young readers. The beauty of the natural world is highlighted and celebrated, with almost every scene set outdoors and featuring animals and plants as well as people. Each page is cleverly designed with a cut-out that forms part of the landscape, sky or weather and the rainbow on the cover. My children always enjoy die-cut books and I'm mad about them too.
Why we love it...
It's an absolute pleasure to read. I've mentioned the wonderful illustrations and I love the eloquent, lyrical text too, with lots of sound words that appeal to children. The main characters are a mixed-race family and different ethnic backgrounds are represented throughout. There is so much happening in each scene, plenty to observe and discuss, and this book keeps us busy for ages.
My youngest always insists we "read" it again, but instead of following the text, likes to invent stories about the characters and give them dialogue. Even the endpapers are gorgeous, showing children dancing under a rainbow (we like to pretend they are racing each other to the next page).
Why you need it...
Apart from being a stunning visual treat and a soothing bedtime story, This Love is a fantastic book for starting conversations about different cultures. It would make an excellent classroom resource for a nursery or primary school and a fabulous gift for a new baby.
About the author:
Isabel Otter is a children's book editor as well as an author. Isabel loves writing about the world around her. We also have the marvellous Afraid of the Dark which was co-written with Sarah Schaffi and illustrated by Lucy Farfort (read a review).
About the illustrator:
Harriet Lynas is an award-winning illustrator who worked as a graphic designer in the fashion industry before moving into children’s books. Harriet has also illustrated a book that is currently at the top of our wishlist, the similarly themed Welcome to Our World – A Celebration of Children Everywhere by Moira Butterfield.