cover image In My Heart

In My Heart

Molly Bang, . . Little, Brown, $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-316-79617-0

Bang (When Sophie Gets Angry—Really, Really Angry ) creates a love letter from mother to child with a startling visual conceit. When the narrator, a delightfully funky mom, says, "I feel something in my heart," she looks inside and, with a turn of the page, shows readers its contents: a heart-shaped image that fairly bursts from the spread, featuring her child (and, occasionally, other members of the family) literally curled up inside. Whether the mother is at work (as a veterinarian), or the child is busy at school, or even "when it's so dark and cold/ that even penguins and polar bears/ Hide their heads inside their chests and shiver/ .../ you are still inside my heart." Some readers may find that the heart image takes some getting used to (grown-ups may be reminded of Christianity's sacred heart iconography), but Bang expertly conjures a dreamy mood. Borrowing the earthy, repetitive cadences of spirituals and the blues, the narrative hums ("Mmm-/ hmmm./ You got it./ Still here in my heart") and croons ("I look inside my heart,/ See you sitting there, and/ Happy jumps right back in my front door"). The drawings, a combination of watercolor, collage and digital artwork, combine a hippie aesthetic with the spontaneity of doodles: figures often float in space against flattened perspectives, while hand-lettered text takes shape from leaves, clouds and even squirted toothpaste. Bang's heart is most definitely in the right place. Ages 4-8. (Jan.)