Farrington’s picture-book debut looks at all the things an adult caregiver loves about a child.
“I love when you / SMILE. // Right before you SING at the top of your lungs,” the narrator asserts. “I love when you’re CREATIVE. // Even when things get MESSY.” A caring adult loves holding hands but also loves when the child lets go to make a friend. The text may be similar to that found in numerous what-I-love-about-you books, but the mixed-media collages are distinctly unlike most in the genre. Photographs of found items, cut and digitally assembled, are placed on white backgrounds. Beautiful natural elements (vegetation, clouds, butterflies) stand out, especially the trees with teardrop-shaped leaves in rainbow hues. But the characters are something else. They may sport clothing and accessories and behave in human ways, but they are not at all human. Some are recognizable animals—a lion on a recumbent bike, for instance—but more are monsterlike creatures or hodgepodges of animal features; a yellow beast with a horselike snout, bug eyes, humanlike torso, and tiny arms and wings illustrates “getting messy,” for example. Readers may not know what to make of these sometimes-ugly beasts, which clash with the message delivered by the text, though they do nicely sidestep typical (and stereotypical) gender and racial depictions.
This could be a conversation starter about the manifestation of love between an adult-child reading pair…once they’ve parsed the attention-getting artwork. (Picture book. 3-7)