Love Me Later

Julie Baer
  • Review
By – August 6, 2012
Baer holds a lens up to every­day life and helps us see the refrac­tions of both its mun­dane and mirac­u­lous beau­ty. Dur­ing an ordi­nary day, a lit­tle boy named Abe observes, won­ders, remem­bers, and asserts both inde­pen­dence from and love for his fam­i­ly. The seem­ing­ly ran­dom speech of a young child is real­is­ti­cal­ly depict­ed as Abe flits from one top­ic to anoth­er and back again, but pat­terns emerge as Abe shows his love of nature and his inter­est in the past. This slice of life has a lit­tle of every­thing from humor to qui­et con­tem­pla­tion, and reminds us just how com­plex and beau­ti­ful any moment can be. The col­lage art is equal­ly com­plex, man­ag­ing to be abstract and extreme­ly real­is­tic at the same time. The char­ac­ters are real indi­vid­u­als with live, expres­sive faces. Inclu­sion of inter­est­ing scraps in the col­lage cre­ates nuances of shad­ow, and the choice of blur­ry scraps for back­ground pro­vides a sense of zoom­ing in for a close­up. Mean­ing­ful words can be found buried in the col­lages by obser­vant read­ers. The chang­ing col­or of the text is an effec­tive way of indi­cat­ing who is speak­ing. Abe’s men­tion of the mezuzah on his house and his aware­ness of the Hebrew lan­guage reveal that he is Jew­ish. As in Baer’s ear­li­er book about Abe’s broth­er, I Only Like What I Like (Bol­lix, 2003), the child’s Jew­ish iden­ti­ty is inte­grat­ed into the sto­ry as a nor­mal part of his life, but remains a minor aspect of the book. How­ev­er, Abe’s excite­ment about but­ter­flies and birds and his sor­row when he steps on an ant can be seen as expres­sions of the Jew­ish val­ues of tikkun olam (car­ing for the world) and ba’al taschlit (avoid­ing need­less destruc­tion). The author empow­ers read­ers to act on these val­ues by includ­ing an end­note sug­gest­ing ways to pro­tect monarch but­ter­flies. This is a love­ly and mean­ing­ful book that will be enjoyed by read­ers of all ages. Its theme of fam­i­ly con­nec­tion would best be cel­e­brat­ed by shared read­ings, and chil­dren are sure to ask, like Abe, what they did when they were lit­tle. While the Jew­ish con­tent may be too sub­tle for edu­ca­tion­al pur­pos­es, the book presents an inspir­ing por­trait of a fam­i­ly whose Judaism is lov­ing­ly inte­grat­ed into dai­ly life. For ages 4 – 7.
Hei­di Estrin is librar­i­an for the Feld­man Chil­dren’s Library at Con­gre­ga­tion B’nai Israel in Boca Raton, FL. She is a past chair of the Syd­ney Tay­lor Book Award Com­mit­tee for the Asso­ci­a­tion of Jew­ish Libraries.

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