I’ve always liked children’s books because although simple, many of them carry great life lessons. I was talking to my mom last week about books that I loved while I was growing up. We actually disagreed when it came to what my favorite book was growing up. In my mom’s memory, my favorite book was What Do Toddlers Do? or Blueberries for Sal. However, without a doubt, in my memory, my favorite children’s book was always Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. While we disagreed on what my favorite book was, we agreed on one thing – that Love You Forever by Robert B. Munsch is creepy. If you recall, it’s a story about a mother’s love for her son. According to Richard Farr of Amazon.com,
“The mother sings to her sleeping baby: ‘I’ll love you forever / I’ll love you for always / As long as I’m living / My baby you’ll be.’ She still sings the same song when her baby has turned into a fractious 2-year-old, a slovenly 9-year-old, and then a raucous teen. So far so ordinary–but this is one persistent lady. When her son grows up and leaves home, she takes to driving across town with a ladder on the car roof, climbing through her grown son’s window, and rocking the sleeping man in the same way. Then, inevitably, the day comes when she’s too old and sick to hold him, and the roles are at last reversed.”
“So far so ordinary” indeed but it takes a turn for creeper-ville once the mom drives across town, breaks into her adult son’s house through his second floor window, and rocks him to sleep. Don’t get me wrong, I love my mom, but if she drove over to my college apartment, broke through my second story window via a ladder, and tried to crawl into my bed with me, I’d be freaked out! If you ask me, the main lesson of this book is probably that mothers and children should remain embarrassingly attached to each other and never grow up. Here are the books that I did love, however, many of which probably have a lot to do with why I turned out the way I did.
- Cloudy with a chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett
- The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
- Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
- Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
- Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst
- Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
- The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg (it is almost Christmas afterall)
- Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman
- Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey
- Miss Nelson Is Missing! by Harry Allard
- If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff
- Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey
- Curious George by H.A. Rey
- The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper (on here for good measure)
- Anything by Dr. Seuss
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who knew papa bear was a racist!?
I actually find The Giving Tree creepy too. I prefer to call it “The Taking Child”. Lesson : To have friends you must let others use you all up.
get over it. this book is one of the greatest books that portray the pure love a mother has for her child all the way through adult hood. than it portrays how the love is returned right back to the mother from the son. than it shows how the cycle is continued when the son holds his own daughter with the same love that was given to him all the years before. its the best cycle there is!!! when i had my oldest son it only amplified the meaning of this book.i still cry every time i read it to my sons.
About I Love You Forever: I totally agree w. the creepy Mom part. My son is 6 and I cant read the book without getting all choked up- until the weird Mom breaking into the house part. Why not write it to follow the rest of the story. nice Mommy, not some psycho Mother In Law.
I have a few things to say about this book. First off, as far as I’m concerned, this book was written around the time when such gestures as an older mother “breaking” into her grown up son’s home just to sing him a lullaby were never fully questionable for a children’s story. Secondly, though the part with the mother “breaking” into her son’s home does seem a bit creepy, I should point out that she absolutely means well and theoretically would give her son time to understand. Third, in case you haven’t been paying attention, the book states that she SOMETIMES drove over to his house to rock him to sleep. Mister Rogers wrote a song called “Sometimes Isn’t Always” explaining that sometimes and always are NOT the same. Fourth, it’s quite safe to assume that, as he got older, the son ALLOWED his mother to keep rocking him to sleep, as well as SOMETIMES come to his house to do so. If you ask me, it more or less shows great strength of character. Fifth, though it does seem unnatural for a mother to rock her son to sleep when he’s around the age of 9 or a teenager or a grown man, I think her intentions were to have her son develop a soft spot in his heart for her so that he would gladly permit it in his lifetime. No easy task. Sixth, embarrassment of public motherly affection and attachment is something that I think this book was trying to dispel in a rather subtle way. Seventh, for the sake of the more open-minded, it could be interpreted that the actions made by the mother weren’t meant to be taken too seriously and were therefore meant to subtly teach kids to appreciate and love their parents even through gestures of love from their parents that they (kids) consider to be embarrassing. Eighth and finally, since I am a Christian, I can find absolutely nothing in the Bible about a mother rocking her son to sleep while he’s growing up being unnatural or creepy. Look, no offense, Matthew, but I really think you need to have a broader mind and get your information straight.
I have to say that “I love you forever” was one of my favorites. Yeah, okay, I would freak out if my mom would creep in on me like that, but firstly, when I was three and my parents read the book to me, it seemed kinda normal cos my parents would come into my room at night to see that I was ok, who knew if they sank to me. I was asleep. Secondly, the whole story seems to be a metaphor; no mom would drive across town and break in to her sons house. Also, I personally think that it is simply trying to symbolize that she still loves him as much and in the same way as she did when he was a baby. Personally this book also means a lot to me because through it I came to terms with the idea of death and the cycle of life, it was great for doing that.
Did you know that he wrote that book about his two children who were stillborn? It was his way of coping with their death and the fact that he will never get to rock them to sleep. Sad.
THANK YOU. I agree with you one-hundred percent. While the sentiment is lovely, and while I’m truly sorry for the author’s loss of his children (something I wholly understand), there is something extremely unsettling about the mother traveling across town, placing a ladder against a house, ascending it, and straddling through the house’s second-floor window. Maybe it’s the illustrations; I don’t know – mom looks a bit like a cafeteria lady from Larson’s “The Far Side.” The cyclical pattern of a child caring for a parent
the way the parent cared for the child, and the promise to love “no matter what” – terrific. Mom not using the front door – terrifying.