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I'LL BE THERE by Ann Stott


by Ann Stott and illustrated by Matt Phelan

Age Range: 2 - 4

Pub Date: March 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-7636-4711-7
Publisher: Candlewick

This companion book to Always (2008) traverses familiar picture-book territory. A young boy, probably primary-school age, clambers on a stone wall while his mother follows alongside in the grass. Their conversation begins, “Did you push me in a carriage when I was a baby?” Mother flashes back to all the things she did for her son as an infant: pushing him on a swing, feeding him “squished peas” and giving him “bubble baths in the kitchen sink.” She then reminds him that he is older and can now do those things on his own. The spare but often bland text is rescued by Phelan’s deft use of watercolor, which injects sly humor into the boy’s independent actions. From a delightfully mismatched outfit to an exuberant mess of a breakfast for mom, the red-haired tyke aims to balance his new skills and confidence with assurance that his mother will always “be there.” And he does—bravely jumping from the wall without any help while watchful mom proudly looks on. The brief text coupled with quiet, warm illustrations is best suited for young preschoolers but lacks the power of the classic Guess How Much I Love You or Mama, Do You Love Me? (Picture book. 2-4)