Mommy love, animals and globe-trotting. What’s not to love about a book that brings all this together? Picture books that talk about the love between parent and child are not new. I can think of many I have read to my own child and we have cuddled companionably while reading them. Debi Gilori’s No Matter What in which Large assures Small that love is constant despite many ‘what-if’ scenarios. There’s also Mama, Do You Love Me? by Barbara M. Joosse and Barbara Lavallee where Mother answers questions about how much and how long she will love her child. And then there is the hands-down favourite, Are You My Mother? by P D Eastman, where a confused little bird asks all kinds of creatures whether they are her mother.
Somewhat on these lines, but bringing together many other strands too, is Love Like That. Here, Little Kroo and Mamma Konga are travelling all over the world and meeting different animals and their children. Little Kroo wonders why her mother doesn’t love her the way these other mothers do. They meet pandas and meerkats and penguins and alligators as they hop from China to the Kalahari to South America and so on. In each place, a mother is doing something special with the child – cuddling her, feeding her, protecting her – and Little Kroo notices it all. Each time, Mamma Konga assures Little Roo that she does love her the most, but in her own special way. Little Roo is usually too excited or tired to find out how it is that Mamma loves her exactly. Finally, it is all revealed in a special kangaroo way.
Along with the overt topic of the assurance of mother’s love, the book is a great way to know about various places, their names as well as specific geographical features – sea, desert, swamp, outback – and the kind of animals that live there. Especially sweet, I thought, were the notes on the page of each new place where, in a childish hand and with a child’s spellings, there are tidbits of information about the place. The information is mostly whimsical and what might strike a child about it – for instance, Shunaan Forest where the bamboo leaves are tasty, or Kalahari Desert with ‘I want to be a bushman!’
Gautam Benegal’s illustrations and Abhishek Jha’s design come together wonderfully on the large-size pages with plenty of space to invoke the largeness of the world and how we traverse it. There are also tiny roos on each page that are playing or flying in planes or lying down exhausted that work as a tiny parallel story to the main narrative.
A word about the production, the book fell apart in my hands and the pages were all out of the binding in the few times I turned them to write the review. It’s a shame, for I had planned to share the book with a local library during their storytelling hour.
Author: Richa Jha
Illustrator: Gautam Benegal
Pickle Yolk Books, 2015
Subject Category: Contemporary/Fiction/Picture Book