CM Archive
CM Archive Book Review line

Robert Munsch. Illustrated by Sheila McCraw.
Scarborough , ON: Firefly Books, 1986.
unpaged, paper, $4.95.
ISBN 0-920668-37-2. cloth, $12.95. ISBN 0-92066836-4. CIP.

Subject Headings:
Love-Juvenile fiction.
Mothers and sons-Juvenile fiction.
Parent and child-Juvenile fiction.

Kindergarten-Adult / Ages 5 and up

Reviewed by André Gagnon.

Volume 15 Number 2
1987 March

This newest story by Robert Munsch differs from those in his previous books by using a quieter and more introspective approach. Munsch shows the love a mother has for her son from the time of his birth to adulthood.

The words in Munsch's stories are always simple, and this book is no exception. He has a keen ear for words and sounds that appeal to children, catch their attention, and can be exaggerated in the telling. In Love You Forever, Munsch uses the words "crazy" and "zoo" to that effect. The use of the word "crawl" is another example. Munsch has the mother crawl across the floor to her son's bed to see if he is asleep. We laugh at the image, but the use of these words adds an element of slapstick that conflicts with the theme.

Munsch uses the same sentence pattern throughout the story, using repetition of words to accentuate each stage of development. Repetition of a song is also used. The song is sung six times by the mother and twice by the son. Since no accompaniment has been included, storytellers will be able to compose a tune that will suit their own styles of storytelling. With the use of a song, Munsch plays on the sentiments of his listeners to provoke a reaction that he will no doubt receive. A good supply of kleenex tissues will be needed.

In trying to show the enduring nature of a parent's love and how that same love is transmitted from generation to generation, Munsch has to show the child from birth to adulthood. This time span causes problems. As the child grows older, he is still being rocked at night by his mother when he is asleep. a situation that becomes sillier as both mother and child grow older. Because much of the story centres on the child when he is older, it is also apparent that this is not a picture-book for a younger audience, although the cover gives that impression.

Perhaps this story should not be in picture-book format. Some illustrations emphasize the ridiculousness of the story. It is one thing to imagine a frail old mother rocking her big, tall son, but another to see it illustrated. The illustrator has also taken license. Once the son has moved away from home, the illustrator shows an older woman climbing a ladder to the second floor of a house opening a window, and, finally, rocking a grown man. This lacks credibility and, while reminiscent of Munsch's previous books, does not fit here.

Love You Forever is sentimentality at its worst. This is not a children's story, but one that will appeal to adults who have experienced a feeling of loss as their children grow older. Munsch should go back to what he does best.

André Gagnon, Regina P.L., Regina, SK.
line indexes


1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995


The materials in this archive are copyright © The Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission Copyright information for reviewers

Young Canada Works