cover image FULL, FULL, FULL OF LOVE


Trish Cooke, , illus. by Paul Howard. . Candlewick, $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-7636-1851-3

Cooke's (So Much) rhythmic prose hits a magical note between chant and lullaby, and her tale conveys a bone-deep understanding of how children cherish familial ties. As Jay Jay helps his grandmother prepare for the extended family's Sunday dinner, he finds a comforting, often palpable abundance everywhere he looks. Grannie herself is "soft and warm and full,/ full of hugs and kisses./ Kiss, kiss./ Hugs and cuddles." When Grannie distracts an increasingly hungry Jay Jay with a visit to her fish tank, he notices that it, too, is "full,/ full of all kinds of fishes./ Splash, splish./ Wiggle, wiggle." Howard's (The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark) artwork throughout the book has an expansive, unbuttoned feel, but the spread for this latter vignette is particularly striking: he contrasts the grandmother and grandson's warm, coffee-toned skin and soft, chocolate eyes with the tropically-hued array swimming in front of them. When dinner finally appears on the table, Cooke shifts to rhyming couplets that fairly telegraph Jay Jay's anticipation ("There were buttery peas,/ chicken and yams,/ macaroni and cheese,/ potatoes and ham"). Howard similarly turns the mouth-watering meal into a feast for the eyes. Readers will find themselves joining Jay Jay in contentedly savoring the way a gathering of loved ones feels deliciously big and complete. Ages 2-up. (Feb.)