cover image No Matter What

No Matter What

Debi Gliori. Harcourt Children's Books, $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-15-202061-3

Gliori (Tell Me Something Happy Before I Go to Sleep) here explores anxiety about the limits of a parent's love--especially whether it can survive a bout of pint-size bad behavior. With a gentle, rhyming text and illustrations that exude a snuggly warmth, she offers a reassuring, though ultimately cloying answer. As bedtime nears, a cute little fox named Small who's feeling ""grim and grumpy"" (and whose parent, Large, is pictured chatting on the phone) acts out by upturning the living room. When Large asks what's wrong, Small begins interrogating Large (neither character's gender is specified): ""If I were a grumpy grizzly bear, would you still love me? Would you still care?"" ""I'd always love you, no matter what,"" responds Large. As in books like Lisa McCourt's I Love You, Stinky Face, the child ups the ante with unpleasant scenarios: what if Small were some other ostensibly uncuddly creature, like a squishy bug or a crocodile? ""No matter what"" comes the answer again--and Gliori's warmly comic depictions of Large's abiding affections drive home the unconditionality of parental love. Unfortunately, Gliori pushes her point a bit too hard with a closing treacly analogy to the light of stars: ""We may be close, we may be far,/ but our love still surrounds us.../ wherever we are."" Still, few authors wear their hearts on their sleeves so effectively. Ages 2-6. (Oct.)