In this tender bedtime book, seven young creatures ask in turn a single, important question: ""Do you love me, Mama?"" The answer in each case is the same: ""forever and ever and always,"" but it is preceded by different, lyrical similes. Mama Rabbit loves her baby ""as the earth loves you, warm and snug around you, giving you a warm place to sleep""; Mama Mouse loves her child ""as the wild rye loves you, gently swaying above you, giving you food and cover from harm."" As the characters speak, the pictures quietly show the progression of the sun and moon to indicate the passage of time from midmorning to evening. The book's oversized pages seem to enfold the reader like a hug, and the full-bleed watercolor-and-ink illustrations are sumptuously yet tidily rendered, bringing to life the lushness of the woodland setting while maintaining a comforting sense of order. So stunningly detailed are Tafuri's (Have You Seen My Duckling?) dusky, downy-coated animals that the pink-skinned human mother and genderless child shown on the final spread seem almost bland in comparison. A compositional strategy gently underlines the point of the narrative: the spreads in which the little ones ask their anxious question are framed as medium or long shots, while the mothers make their reassuring reply in snuggly close-ups. A soothing and sturdy choice. Ages 3-7. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 03/02/1998 Release date: 03/01/1998 Genre: Children's
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