cover image Love You Until--

Love You Until--

Lisa McCourt, William Haines. Paulist Press, $16.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-8091-6658-9

Despite the jacket illustration of a mother and son astride a fire-breathing dragon flying toward a castle, there's no magic within. Instead, McCourt's (the Stinky Face books; the Chicken Soup for Little Souls series) offers a familiar parent-child love-fest/contest, in the mold of Sam McBratney's superior Guess How Much I Love You. Her twist: mother and son spin nonsense situations in verse. ""`I'll love you,' said Mama, `until our whole street/gets swallowed up by a huge parakeet!'/ `Oh, Mama,' laughed Mike,/ `you know that can't be./ I'll love you till purple hair/ grows from my knee!'"" The flap copy offers a religious spin, too, asserting that ""it is in such wholesome human exchanges that children enter the experience of God's love."" Whereas Cyd Moore took a generally deadpan approach in the art for the similarly exaggerated scenarios in the Stinky Face books, Haines (What If the Zebras Lost Their Stripes?) exaggerates them even more (e.g., the elephant said to wear striped pajamas also sports a set of false eyelashes). Sometimes the paintings render the status quo, revealing the source of Mama or Mike's inspirations (the purple knee-hairs are based on Mike's purple-tressed toy clown). In all cases, the illustrations favor a high-contrast palette, and the effect is more jangling than witty. Ages 2-7. (Sept.)