cover image Love Is Real

Love Is Real

Janet Lawler, illus. by Anna Brown. Harper, $15.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-06-224170-2

In impeccably rhymed couplets, Lawler (Snowzilla) makes the case that love is all about actions in a story that feels simultaneously old-fashioned and of-the-moment. Newcomer Brown assembles cleanly laid-out digital collages whose soft corrugated and fabric textures and muted palette create a welcoming forest neighborhood where rabbit, bear, and fox families live in tidy cottages. “Love holds on to steer your bike/ and packs a picnic lunch you like,” writes Lawler as Brown shows the three families heading out into the forest for a day of picnicking, game-playing, tree-climbing, and scrape-bandaging (presumably after an off-screen tumble). Later, the animals return home for gentle nighttime activities: “Love unknots your tangled hair/ and finds a special book to share,” reads the text as one young fox brushes the other’s tail; on the facing page, they sprawl out on their bunk beds for a bedtime story. Though the rhymes may be too sweet for some palates, this well-matched pair maintains an even-keeled tone throughout—there are no major emotional highs or lows, just a steady sense of comfort. Ages 4–8. (Jan.)