Top critical review
May be too dark for young ones
Reviewed in the United States on August 20, 2018
I got this as one of my two selections in Amazon's New Book Subscription thing for kids. My daughter is three and I picked this book because it looked nice. And the illustrations are beautiful.
But I think the dark parts of the book are a little too dark for my daughter.
You know how the giving tree has this tree that sacrifices itself for the good of the boy, but the illustrations and the story are vague enough that you can still read it to little ones without them being freaked out by the message? This book isn't vague in that way, an illustration shows a little boy hiding under a table with his mom crying and his dad leaving while the narration speaks of people 'flaming out'. "Poppy, what does it mean that people flame out? And why is that boy hiding? Is his parents angry at him?". Yeah, not a conversation I was prepared to tackle at bedtime. But I guess that's on me for not prereading a book that was recommended for my daughter's age group.
This seems like one of those children's books you give to high school graduates (like The Giving Tree) when they graduate. Kind of like a congratulations card in book form that has a not so hidden message.
What I don't get is talking about love ending in a book on love. Why not focus on love's evolution? Tears out of love at a funeral (a love of hugs becoming a love of memory) would have been preferable to me to a scared kid and hinting at divorcing parents. Heck the next page could have shown the kid with his mom and dad separatly sharing loving moments and talked about love evolving and at least done some damage control. But no it shows a child being ostracized by their family and then is followed on the next page by a nightmare. Yeah bedtime reading.
In general I didn't like the writing. It may be a preference, but it felt very disjointed to me. I understand it was a series of disconnected scenes that all demonstrate love (or the flaming out of love). But really it didn't flow organically to me and the ending, while a good sentiment, felt unearned.
Its hard to articulate why but I almost would have been happier with all the words removed and just had the pictures with the title 'Love'.
With all the five-star reviews I feel kind of like a guy at a museum of post modern art. It's a red canvas, why are all the critics raving? This is a gorgeous book but the writing is not great and the message and metaphors are a bit obtuse. I mean if the art was any less good I would give it one, maybe two stars.
TL,DR Not my cup of tea and read before reading to little ones to be sure you are ready for a difficult question or two.
PS I didn't really like the other book (I Don't Want to Be a Frog) I got in the subscription box (I felt the writing/messaging in both was subpar) so I cancelled my subscription because it wasn't worth it even at a discount.