Newest Review: ... 'I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always, as long as I'm living, my baby you'll be'. Every night she sings this song. The baby grow... more
You know I will, but how can I tell you?
Love You Forever - Robert N. Munsch
Member Name: cmh4135
Love You Forever - Robert N. Munsch
Advantages: A good theme for young kids
Disadvantages: Makes for some uncomfortable adult images
"Love You Forever" is all about the relationship between parents and children, and in particular, a mother's love. Describing that feeling that I think you can only really appreciate as a parent, it illustrates that deep-seated love and bond between parent and child and captures that feeling that you first experience on holding a new baby who, despite you never having seen before, you love more than anything you've ever met.
It sounds like it could be a heavy, psychological text, but is, in fact, a picture book aimed most probably at 3-5 year olds. Looking on Amazon you'll find that there are two editions available - the one I received, with illustrations by Sheila McGraw and shown above and another illustrated by Anthony Lewis.
The book opens with a mother singing to her newborn son: "I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always, as long as I'm living, my baby you'll be". We follow mother and son as he grows up into a screaming two year old, a loud and typical nine year old, a troublesome teenager, and finally on to adulthood. Every night she creeps into his room, when she is sure he is asleep and sings her song again. Completing the circle of life the mother herself grows old and now it's role reversal time: the son must comfort his mother and, in turn, his own daughter, singing to each in the night.
I can so see the point of this book. It illustrates with a certain clarity that unconditional love which should (and more often than not) does exist between parent and child. It's a theme that's picked up in many a book and children's programme (in fact, the Tweenies dealt with this issue just the other day). It demonstrates that you'll always be a child to your parents and that they love you, just for that. I read it, however, with a certain unease.
There is, to me, something deeply awkward about seeing a mother drive across town, ladder atop her car, to creep into her grown up son's room at night, cradle him in her arms and then sing to him. It's a point that would probably be lost on any child you were to read it to (at least of the intended audience age) but as a parent I find parts just a little sick and twisted. Having talked to the friend who bought this for me I'm not convinced that this is just a cultural thing. Apparently there was controversy in the US when the book was first published for similar reasons.
Despite my own awkwardness when reading the book I still think that the message is an important one. You're not going to stop loving your child because of what they do or how old they are and it's an important thing for children to understand. As an adult I read the story in a literal sense and find it disturbing that a mother is cradling her adult son when nothing seems to be the issue (and in fact, it feels as though you have a rather crazed mother) but from a child's perspective this is unlikely to be questioned. Rather, the child will just take the unconditional love message away with them.
The illustrations work well and will aid the child to get the intended message. They are drawn in pastel hues with a certain realism that lifts them from the cartoon yet keeps them distant enough to reinforce the fact that this is a tale. They are as gentle as the song that mother sings. There's enough in each picture to capture a child's interest and get them involved.
I'm really not sure whether I like the book or not. I am however grateful that I have a copy and it certainly gives food for thought. I find it a deep challenge to read aloud to my son but for reasons of my own discomfort rather than the message that it is given. I wholeheartedly agree and can relate to the unconditional love theme it's just how it's presented that sits awkwardly with me. I'm not sure how I'd present the issue - it's probably not preferable to show a child misbehaving too badly and then being told that it doesn't matter.
This book would, I think, have a cross-age appeal although it is probably most suited to toddlers through to about 5 year olds. It's a book to read to a child rather than have them read it although, like me, you may have to get over your own discomfort to do so. Or maybe I'm just not open enough?
Summary: An interesting take on an important theme