Review: Loving and Creepy Children’s Books that are Really for Parents

My in-laws introduced us to our second not-really-for-children children’s book this past weekend. I refer to sugary and sentimental picture books about parenting that capture the moment you look into your child’s eyes and at once see your parents cradling you in their arms and your grown child cradling your grandchild.

Cover of the book Someday, featuring a drawing of a mother lifting her baby up into the air.

Someday written by Alison McGhee and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds follows the path of a mother who expresses her love for her daughter and envisions her daughter’s experiences as they both grow older. Simply and perfectly illustrated, the mother begins with present tense statements and proceeds into wistful "Someday…" dreams.

  • "One day I counted your fingers and kissed each one."
  • "Sometimes, when you sleep, I watch you dream, and I dream too…"
  • "Someday you will look at this house and wonder how something that feels so big can look so small." (leaving for college)
  • "Someday I will watch you brushing your child’s hair."
  • "Someday, a long time from now, your own hair will glow silver in the sun. And when that day comes, you will remember me."

It’s an endearing little book for anyone who, upon having a child, has contemplated life 30, 40 or 50 years from now and comes to see their own certain demise as a joyful thing, as a part of the cycle of life.

Cover of the book Love You Forever, featuring a drawing of a toddler sitting in a bathroom playing with toilet paper pulled from the roll.

Another popular and infinitely more creepy book is Love You Forever, written by Robert Munsch and illustrated by Sheila McGraw. We own three gifted copies. This book is told in traditional story format following a mother raising her son.

On the first page you read:

"A mother held her new baby and very slowly rocked him back and forth. And while she held him, she sang:
I’ll love you forever,
I’ll like you for always,
As long as I’m living
My baby you’ll be."

Through toddlerhood she cradles him in her arms and sings the song. In his teen years she peeks in while he’s sleeping and sings the song. When he grows up and moves across town, his mother drives across town, cradles him in her lap and sings the song. No joking.

Then when she’s near death, her son cradles her and sings the song. Finally, he has a son of his own and the cycle begins anew.

The publisher states the story is about "how that little boy goes through the stages of childhood and becomes a man," and also about "the enduring nature of parents’ love and how it crosses generations."

Okay, but if he really became a mature adult, why is his 70ish-year-old mother driving across town and sneaking into his room to rock him back and forth in her arms while he sleeps? Ugh.

If you’re curious about how to sing the song, listen to the author reciting the story. What am I missing? Why is this story so popular? Do you own any other children’s books that are intended for adults?

Comments

21 Responses to “Review: Loving and Creepy Children’s Books that are Really for Parents”

  1. Brian says:

    I dunno, I thought the 70-year-old woman driving across town with the ladder on the roof of the car was a funny touch. I had visions of her doing that Belushi-off-the-second-floor-window scene, though.

    May 12th, 2008 at 3:16 am

  2. addy says:

    i am pretty sure that the I love you forever book is a standard…everyone I know has it even us (was a gift from hubby’s mom)…I have always found it too creepy for my liking…I hate the mama’s boy theme…I think it is for the clingy mom who wants to normalize her stalking behavior in adulthood…you know that type that still cleans her grown sons face with spit on a hanky…BLECH!!! okay glad to hear someone else find it odd.

    May 12th, 2008 at 5:41 am

  3. Dani says:

    We also received the I love you forever book as a gift and have always found it to be creepy. I feel like she’s some stalker-mom and why doesn’t he wake up when she does this as an adult? I’m glad other people find it creepy as well.

    May 12th, 2008 at 7:27 am

  4. Jennifer says:

    Yes, I have always found this story a bit odd in the mama’s boy sense. I hope I’m not this kind of mom!

    I do find, however, that Robert Munsch’s more humerous books are fun for children by I use for parenting classes to teach the parents lessons:
    Mortimer (if you leave them alone, they will go to sleep)
    I have to go! (demonstrates the frustration of potty training)
    We share everything (contrary to popular belief, I use this to remind parents that we don’t have to share everything and to be careful what you say)
    His books are crazy and, given to the wrong child, could be inappropriate; but they are fun and teach much better lessons to parents that to children.

    May 12th, 2008 at 7:37 am

  5. Much More Than A Mom says:

    The book IS creepy but I sing the song to my kids every night – edited my way….

    “I love you forever, I like you for always, forever and always my buddy you’ll be!” for my son and currently “my baby” for my 4 month old daughter but I’ll find her own word later I’m sure. I don’t like to mention death in a bedtime song, but I love the sentiment and the tune so it works.

    May 12th, 2008 at 8:38 am

  6. JMo says:

    I saw “Someday” at Target the other day and thought it looks great. After a quick buzz through, I decided it was strange (creepy is a much better adjective) and dropped it like a hot potato.

    The Love You Forever trend must have skipped our house. Although based on the reviews here, I’m quite surprised my mother-in-law didn’t give it to us as a wedding gift!

    May 12th, 2008 at 9:03 am

  7. My Boaz's Ruth says:

    It hasn’t made it to my friend-group yet because I haven’t heard of it.

    Sounds too much like the creepy song my husband sometimes sings “I love you, I love you, said the little blue man.” Etc

    May 12th, 2008 at 9:09 am

  8. thordora says:

    As I understand it, Munsch wrote it in response to multiple stillbirths-in that light, the protective vibe made a lot of sense. Book always made me cry, as does the other one, but that’s more because my mother didn’t have a chance to stick around.

    Love lasting through the years never seemed creepy to me-both being fiction and all. And death, being part of life, is always discussed in our house, with some books helping that.

    May 12th, 2008 at 9:21 am

  9. Teacher Jen says:

    “Zagazoo” by Quentin Blake. It’s definitely for parents.

    It starts with the arrival of a baby boy into a couples’ life. As the boy grows, an animal illustration represents each phase of his life… a baby elephant in toddlerhood, a big hairy ape in the early teens, etc. In the end, when the child is grown, the parents are depicted as two happy, clattering pelicans.

    Funny stuff! Enjoy!

    http://www.amazon.com/Zagazoo-Quentin-Blake/dp/0099265346/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1210611294&sr=8-1

    May 12th, 2008 at 10:07 am

  10. Cindi says:

    Happy Monday! I never looked at the book that literal! It was more of a mind frame thing with me.
    I have a son who just graduated from high school and I gave him a copy of “Love You Forever!”
    He has it propped up on his desk. My sister gave me a copy when I gave birth to him. She is a retired first grade school teacher of 34 years. She loved every minute ( almost ) of teaching and won several awards! I think the book says a lot if the actions are seen way less literal and more of a heart thought. Cindi

    May 12th, 2008 at 10:16 am

  11. RB says:

    We recieved the Love You Forever Book as a baby shower gift. I didn’t read it until my son picked it up and wanted to read about boy and the potty. I found it very creepy. We should be raising our sons to be men not overgrown babies. I always wondered where the son’s wife was and how she felt when her husband was taken out of her bed in the middle of the night by his mother. Talk about the other woman. Don’t get me wrong. I love my son very much and I can only begin to understand how hard it will be to let him go as he grows into a man but that is what Mothers are for. I try to hide the book now along with Tootles the train which disturbs me for other reasons.

    May 12th, 2008 at 10:52 am

  12. Darby says:

    I don’t know about the creepy book, but your description of it does make it sound pretty weird. However, “Someday” is a really nice book and I read it to my daughter every now and then. It was a gift and it makes me tear up sometimes when I read it and think about my own mom and about my daughter when she will be all grown up someday.

    May 12th, 2008 at 4:56 pm

  13. kati says:

    oh my god, i thought it was creepy to read, but i’ll love you forever is even WORSE listening to it! horrible!

    May 12th, 2008 at 5:16 pm

  14. Carrie says:

    Every time I read “I Love you Forever” I cry. It’s because of the story behind the story. It was and is a love song to his first two children that were stillborn. Keep that in mind when you read it, and you may understand what is behind those words. I think it’s endearing and beautiful, but not neccesarily for kids. Don’t read too much into the story folks.

    Here’s the link, if you want to know what Robert Munsch has to say about it:

    http://www.robertmunsch.com/books.cfm?bookid=40

    May 12th, 2008 at 10:32 pm

  15. Jamie says:

    Oh my gosh Carrie thank you for posting that link. The book makes me cry everytime I read it, and now that I know the story behind it, it’s going to be even worse.
    Even though it is a little creepy, it’s still a wonderful book! “Someday” is great too. I must just be very emotional because I cry when I read that one too!! It’s amazing what becoming a parent does to a person! :)

    May 13th, 2008 at 9:21 am

  16. Sherri E. says:

    I found Love You Forever overly sentimental and thus not to my taste, but I didn’t find it creepy. I don’t think it’s meant to be taken literally.

    May 17th, 2008 at 8:12 pm

  17. kelli says:

    Two books I find weird? The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown (creepy stalker-like behavior from the Mom bunny) and Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney (the big hare just has to out perform the little hare — can’t let the little guy come out ahead).

    May 26th, 2008 at 3:34 pm

  18. Jennifer says:

    I’m a mama – and I don’t find the driving across town thing creepy at ALL. Okay, it’s humourous exaggeration, which Robert Munsch excels at. But it’s also what kids want to hear – they will always be your “baby,” even if they’re forty years old. And trust me, as someone who works with seniors, most 70-something mamas WOULD do this if they thought they had a hope of getting away with it. :-)))

    September 10th, 2008 at 1:05 pm

  19. SOMEONE says:

    Wow, Robert is sooo creepy, the way he says stuff is just weird.

    October 3rd, 2008 at 8:49 pm

  20. anjii says:

    I have to echo the sentiments of some others posted here… Me and my son LOVE this book. My mom gave it to me for Valentines when I was a teenager, and I liked it right aways. And I always cry at the end. I agree that it’s not literal. Most of Munsch’s books aren’t… they’re always exaggerated for effect (and usually laughs). It’s about unending love, and continuing traditions. And finding out that he wrote it for his stillborn children is going to have me bawling next time I read it.

    October 5th, 2008 at 7:24 am

  21. Cheryl says:

    Be careful about what you say, I really hurt a person’s feelings when I said this book was a psycho co-dependant book given to Mamma’s Boys by their mothers. I feel it exemplifies the concept of that your children will forever be the most important part of your life, not your spouse/ partner. Creepy & Co-Dependant.

    February 24th, 2010 at 4:48 am

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