Sarah Ayoub (text) and Mimi Purnell (illustrator), The Love That Grew, HarperCollins Publishers, March 2022, 24 pp., RRP $19.99 (hbk), ISBN 9781460761113
I love the idea of giving a book in lieu of a card. Cards can be really sweet and have beautiful sentiments, but more often a book says more and is less likely to be binned after a month. The Love That Grew is a gentle, sweet, emotive book that would be a wonderful replacement for a card from a mother to a child.
Motherhood and the work of mothers is something that at times is highly regarded and respected, say on Mother’s Day, and at other times is invisible, undervalued and taken for granted. This is a real shame because the work a mother does is underpinned by love and this love is at the centre of the poetic narrative of The Love That Grew.
Beginning with a statement of intent: Let me tell you of a power that can never be tamed, the narrator uses similes and comparatives to describe the strength, force, and ubiquity of her love for each of her children. She tells us that it is brighter than all the stars at night, sweeter than a slice of chocolate cake and protective like the toughest shield. She uses imagery that children will relate to like soup, cotton balls, glue, and a lolly snake. She expresses that her love is longer, deeper, brighter, richer, fancier, and nourishing.
The illustrations are a wonderful complement to the text. The colour tones are more natural and muted, and the endpapers are on par with Philip Bunting’s or Sarah Allen’s. There is one page that shows a diversity of mothers with their children. What I really like it that there are images of mothers interacting with their children and being involved in the action as they dive, play instruments, or read together. Those are the images that really speak to me about how the connection between a mother and her children grows.
This is a great book to for families expecting a new addition to their family, as the point is made, that no matter how many children a mother has, her love is powerful enough for each of them.
Reviewed by Cherie Bell