We’re knee-deep in the holiday season and so close to Christmas. Assuming you celebrate and assuming you’re busy icing your final batch of holiday cookies, I’ll keep this one short today. I’ll tell you briefly, but enthusiastically, about Amy Schwartz’s new picture book, 100 Things I Love to Do with You.
This was released earlier this month, and little did I know it was even arriving on shelves—or I may have yawped about it even earlier. I’m a big fan of Amy’s books. They are so well-suited to toddler- and preschool-aged readers, as I’ve stated before here at Kirkus. I may have been quoted previously as saying:
“She has this uncanny ability to capture the way young children think and behave, and she does so without offering up syrupy-sweet lessons or sounding condescending to child readers. And her books, I find, are emotionally resonant with young children.”
All that’s to say: It’s with great enjoyment that I share her books with the children I know.
This colorful book is written in very short rhymes, with vignettes throughout of various people, coupled up (whether two children or adult and child), doing a wide variety of activities. “Run races, make faces, leapfrog, walk the dog, race snails, tell tales, ride waves, misbehave,” the book opens. Children and adults of many shapes and skin tones enjoy the company of the other child or adult they are with, and the whole thing adds up to a genuinely sweet celebration of friendship and family.
There’s a lot of happy, busy people here, dancing, playing, make-believing, trouble-making (there’s even a “skinny-dip,” which I love), cloud-watching, art-making, trail-blazing, and dragon-slaying, all rendered via Schwartz’s pen-and-ink, gouache illustrations. I love the balance of simple-yet-detailed that she achieves in her artwork: There are detailed patterns and clothing and objects around and on her characters, yet they themselves have simple lines and dots for faces. It’s all very appealing to young readers. And did I mention colorful? The opening and closing endpapers here are a patchwork of small, colorful squares, a hint as to the mini, bright moments that make up the pages of this book. Even the book’s font gets in on the color action, changing colors without distracting the reader.
Young children, even those who cannot read, will delight in browsing this one. (Who says it needs to be read in order, even if it is rhyming? I think it can certainly be enjoyed both ways.) Schwartz’s text shows people taking in our big, beautiful world and its small, modest moments of grace with all of their senses, and it’s truly engaging in that children will want to respond: I’ve done that too, or how about adding this?
It’s definitely a keeper, especially for parents, caretakers, and educators of very young children.
Best of all, take off the book’s dustjacket to see the delightful surprise underneath. This may be my favorite dustjacket of the year.
Its appearance on shelves may be squeaking by at the tail end of 2017, but don’t let it pass you by.
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.
100 THINGS I LOVE TO DO WITH YOU. Text and illustrations copyright © 2017 by Amy Schwartz. Illustration reproduced by permission of the publisher, Abrams Appleseed, New York.