A second slam of cuteness from the creators of Next to You: A Book of Adorableness (2016).
“So here’s the thing. I love you.” Houran matches the wry tone that saved the previous outing from dissolving into total goo, and Hanson again supplies a “squee”-inducing gallery of fuzzy, soft-focus baby animals with big, wide eyes. Unfortunately, this labored effort at a follow-up is really just more of the same—with the addition of a baby skunk surrounded by a light green cloud (“Oh. Hoo, boy”) to challenge (unsuccessfully, even for a moment) the “unconditional” part of the premise. The title, which echoes the climactic line’s “I love you warts and all,” will require explication despite the smiling toad on the facing page and may even be worrisome to more self-conscious young listeners. The illustrations may confuse young listeners as well. While the prickly porcupine cub nestled snugly amid a snoozing heap of little darlings may be taken for visual license, a fish-food snack offered to a goldfish in one scene doesn’t look much like a token of motherly love, nor does an earlier trio of baby kangaroos seem all that “wound up.”
Parents who have OD’d on the previous outing may welcome this as an alternative, but goodness knows, similar treacly reassurances that are also free of potentially confusing bits abound. (Picture book. 2-5)