April 29, 2022

Love is for Roaring

Written by Mike Kerr
Illustrated by Renata Liwska
32 pp.
Ages 4-8
January 2022

While I probably should have reviewed this lovely picture book in January when it came out so that it would be ready for Valentine's Day, I think that books about love in all its forms are important all year round, don't you think?

From Love is for Roaring by Mike Kerr, illus. by Renata Liwska
At school, the animals are given the assignment of showing their love as a crafty card. But this work distresses Lion who is perplexed by what is required.  Mouse can see the stress this causes Lion and tries to draw out of Lion what he understands love to be and what he might love. But that doesn't go well. Everything Mouse suggests, from hugs and kisses and sweet treats, are negated by Lion whose experiences with or perceptions of those are aggravating.
From Love is for Roaring by Mike Kerr, illus. by Renata Liwska
Finally when Mouse suggests activities like running and playing, roaring and chasing, Lion realizes that there are many things he loves doing, including being and having a friend.
From Love is for Roaring by Mike Kerr, illus. by Renata Liwska
As teachers, we know that understanding any assignment relies on both the teacher's ability to explain it and the student's ability to make connections with it. It's no wonder that Lion, a fearless creature, finds the homework assignment to "Show your Love" to be "impossible, the undoable, the unimaginable" and it causes him much anxiety. Thankfully Mike Kerr gives Lion a friend in Mouse, an animal with infinite wisdom and the patience to help Lion see that love is possible and even familiar. Mike Kerr may be an instructor of illustration at the Alberta University of the Arts but the text of Love is for Roaring suggests that he has the right words to tell a story beyond the artwork. Lion's distress is palpable as is Mouse's concern. And Renata Liwska's illustrations elevate the story with something special. It's a mixture of soft colours, cushioned textures and recognizable body language. From frustration to solemn introspection and playful exertions, Lion and Mouse and their classmates are the children who will read this book and see themselves within the digital artwork. They will know about frustration and wanting to help a friend. They will know distress and confusion and the relief of resolution. Love is for Roaring may be every child's story of uncertainty about school work and finding a connection where one might not have been evident initially.

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