Children and their grown-ups explore the ABCs of love.
The letters of the alphabet make the springboard for this alphabetized list of vignettes illustrating the love of family, friends, and more. Some are obvious choices, as in W: “Love is to welcome.” The corresponding illustration shows two youngsters, one white and one black, welcoming an olive-skinned girl using a wheelchair to their classroom. Others are a bit of a stretch, as in O: “Love is original.” This is paired with a pale-brown tot painting on a large piece of paper taped to the wall. While the text begins by using rhymed couplets, this scheme falters, and rhythmic verse is not even attempted in many double-page spreads. What stands out is Engels’ jewel-toned art, featuring exuberant kids and adults with a diverse range of skin tones, many of them existing within the same family. The project is sandwiched between two pages of needless introduction and conclusion, attempting to sum up all the emotions packed into the pages. The final four pages unnecessarily review the alphabet and the words highlighted on each page as a line of expressive kids hold hands across the spreads.
An emotional mess. Here’s hoping Engel finds a text worthy of her playful art. (Board book. 18 mos.-4)