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Eloquent Expressions of Parent-Child Love
am 18. August 2007
Guess How Much I Love You is a well-earned recipient of the Abby Award.
This book is very uniquely plotted. Unlike most books for bedtime, the two protagonists are male (apparently father and son, although that is left unstated). And they spend the whole book describing and showing their love for one another. I know of no other book that provides this sort of man-boy modeling about expressing love and appreciation for one another.
Yet at the same time, the "maleness" of the two characters is subdued so that the pair could be very easy to see them as female characters (a mother-daughter pair). Obviously, mixed pairs (mother-son and father-daughter) are even easier to imagine. So everyone can relate to expressing love and receiving expressions of love in return when reading this delightful story.
The other attraction of this story is that the youngster, Little Nutbrown Hare, takes the lead. He wants to describe his love first. Children can start to be reticent about their feelings beginning around age 4, and this book should help overcome that shyness. Fathers of my generation and older have been reticent since that age with everyone, so this book will help a few parents as well to show their feelings.
As for age level, this book should start to appeal at about age 2 1/2 to 3. You will be reading the story to your youngster at that age. In time, with memorization, you will be listening to the story. Later, you child will actually learn to read it to you.
The illustrations are gently subdued, to help create a mood of drowsiness. Nicely done, Ms. Anita Jeram!
The story opens with Little Nutbrown Hare on his way to sleep. He is riding on top of Big Nutbrown Hare, holding onto the larger hare's very long ears. The plot development begins when Little Nutbrown Hare raises the title challenge: Guess how much I love you.
Little Nutbrown Hare uses his body to show how much. Big Nutbrown Hare, being larger, outdoes him when he repeats what Little Nutbrown Hare has said in terms of his own adult body. Little Nutbrown Hare then goes on to use his eyes to create even larger distances to express the greatness of his love. Big Nutbrown Hare comes up with even larger distances, based on his longer experience.
As Little Nutbrown Hare goes to sleep after making his greatest expression of love, Big Nutbrown Hare says nothing until after Little Nutbrown Hare is in the land of nod. Then Big Nutbrown Hare makes his final expression of love . . . a very beautiful one (involving about 500,000 miles).
After you have finished enjoying this heartfelt story, I suggest that you think about more ways that you can express your love more often to those you care about. Use the concepts in this book to come up with ways to flesh out the simple, "I love you" to make the expression more tangible to the hearer. I suspect you will receive many bouquets of expressed love as a result.
May love be with and come from you . . . always!