________________ CM . . . . Volume VIII Number 18 . . . . May 10, 2002

cover The Love Book.

Pernilla Stalfelt.
Toronto, ON: Groundwood Books/Douglas & McIntyre, 2002.
32 pp., cloth, $15.95.
ISBN 0-88899-455-9.

Subject Heading:
Love-Juvenile literature.

Grades 6 and up / Ages 11 and up.

Review by Gillian Richardson.

** /4

excerpt: image

Love can make you fall in love.

Then your eyes start shining and twinkling...and your cheeks go red, and your ears, too.

You look more like a flower blooming than a human being.

Being in love = walking around in a pink shimmer...and tripping over things or dogs .

The Love Book takes a playful look at various responses to the feeling we call "love" through a random assortment of thoughts; how it affects us physically and emotionally, how we react to it, who or what we love, how we express it to others. As the cover blurb suggests, the whole business of love is an "overwhelming experience" for any age, so there can be no unequivocal answers here.

     The text is brief, but thought-provoking in some instances - "Love is like a gift...you get it for free if someone wants to give it away." Other statements, e.g. "Love can be unfair. It can make bad kids even worse," might be puzzling for young readers, and this book may be best read with an adult to clarify the meanings suggested by the accompanying illustrations. The book is illustrated with child-like cartoon-style drawings intended to add humour and levity. However, the drawings are often more grotesque than funny, especially the caricatures, some of which show insensitivity, e.g. a "yellow" individual with a pigtail to represent a Buddhist ("There's love for God...love for Allah...love for Buddha..."). Parents sharing this book with their kids or school librarians considering it for the shelves should be aware of the graphic, though simplistic, depiction of sexual love. The author also includes a sketchy explanation of the reproductive process; again, the illustrations may confuse kids. The final pages show the familiar symbols of love: cupid, hearts, the colour red, a recipe for a love potion.

     The age of the intended audience is unclear. The cover states "(age) 8+, (grade) 3+," though some expressions might be challenging for a younger child reading this alone: "uncalled-for fuss," "too much of a good thing." The book is translated from an original Swedish publication.

Recommended with reservations.

Living in BC, Gillian Richardson is a former teacher-librarian and a published writer of children's fiction and nonfiction.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364