Every now and then I see an exceptional board book that begs to be written about, and Yusuke Yonezu’s We Love Each Other, released just this week, is one of those. 

The book stands out for its clever design, seemingly simple but actually quite sophisticated. On each spread is featured a simple shape, which the book’s target audience, toddlers, will enjoy identifying. There’s a heart, a triangle, even a trapezoid. Mind you, the names of the shapes aren’t included, but that would have just cluttered up these elegant spreads.

The shapes are divided into halves, filled with two of the same animals, and die-cuts are involved. You see, for instance, a very angular blue mouse, and then you see him a second time with a parallel die-cut shape next to him, which altogether forms a triangle. Turn the page, and you see two mice fill up the triangular space. This is followed by the white shape itself (animal-less) on a single-colored background.

Whew, this is hard to explain.

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How about just looking at an illustration or two here? Voilà!

We Love Each Other Spread 1We Love Each Other Spread 2

These visually distinctive spreads are also engaging; the die-cuts will have young hands reaching out to feel the shapes. There’s also a striking mood of comfort and warmth emanating from these spreads. The elephant is a round semicircle, and she stands over her young child, another semicircle shape tucked within her own mother (the die-cut, of course, revealing how they fit together).

And the circle is made up of two turtles. Look closely, and you see that the turtle on the bottom half is frowning. When you turn the page, where he and his friend fill up the circular space, he’s smiling. They’re together at last, snug and happy. This is satisfying for young children to see.

The text, laid out in clear and easy-to-read black type, is basic, noting that these animals love each other.

We have an international effort here: Yonezu, a designer, was born in Tokyo, and this was published by Minedition (Michael Neugebauer Edition), based in Hong Kong. Minedition was evidently founded in 2004 with the books now distributed in the U.S. by IPG (Independent Publishers Group). Neugebauer himself works (from Hong Kong) as editor and designer for all the books in the imprint.

It’s lovely to see such polished design at work in a sturdy book for very young children. This is design that doesn’t get in the way of the story, and toddlers will also be drawn to the book’s snuggle factor: On the very back of the book, which clearly utilizes all its real estate, it closes with “…I love YOU too!”

WE LOVE EACH OTHER. Illustrations copyright © 2013 by Yusuke Yonezu. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher, Minedition, Hong Kong.

Julie Danielson (Jules) conducts interviews and features of authors and illustrators at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, a children's literature blog primarily focused on illustration and picture books.