Thursday, July 21, 2011

What does love look like?

by Janette Oke
Bethany House, 2001, 32 pages

reviewed by Jeanette Dykstra

It’s very hard for shy little Emily to be the “new girl” in a first grade class. This book details how Emily is welcomed into her new class and how she tries to be unnoticed after a kind introduction by her new teacher. She listens to her class discuss “things that are real but which you can’t see.” Love is given as an example and the class decides to try to draw the idea of love. The different pictures the class comes up with are very interesting and can certainly instigate some discussions between the adult reader and the listening child.

One picture shows two girls – one holding a broken chocolate bar and handing a big piece to her friend. A boy in class, Bradley, has drawn a big brown square because love is like a big, big blanket, big and warm enough to wrap up the whole world. A girl on crutches shows a picture of a big circle because to her a circle has no rough edges to hurt people or corners for anyone to get pushed into.

The happy feelings illustrated on the many pictures make Emily feel more at ease. Then she gets up to show her picture. Although still a little nervous she goes up to the front of the class and shows her picture. Now everyone is looking at her and her picture, and suddenly her new teacher begins to clap. Then the children join in. Emily’s picture is about the ultimate love, God’s love of mankind. Everyone agrees that her picture of a cross should go up on the special merit board.

This book is a great learning tool and beautifully illustrated by Cheri Bladholm using a real grade one class as models. As a former teacher I found this book to be “real” and not contrived. I would gladly have used it in my classroom or as a grandma to read to my grandkids.

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