This book contains the classic game we like to call One-Upsmanship. I love to play this game because I'm a
horrible competitive person. Oh you've been to a Dropkick Murphys concert, have you? Well, I've performed with them onstage (true story):
|^^that's my leg!|
McBratney's picture book (illustrations by Anita Jeram) is really adorable. At first I thought it was a nostalgia entry, and maybe it is, but it was written in 1994, which is the same year Friends debuted and I refuse to believe that the show is that old, so I'm not going to consider it a nostalgia book! It's a great book for kids and here's why:
1) The illustrations: They're simple, yet expressive. Too detailed pictures would make the book seem heavy, when it's just supposed to be a light tale about how much a parent loves his kid. The colors stay the same throughout the book, keeping a child focused on the story, rather than spending time dissecting all of the changes. That makes it especially good for parents, because I'm sure this is the quintessential go-to-bed book.
2) Anthropomorphizing. The characters in the story are hares, specifically Little Nutbrown Hare and Big Nutbrown Hare. The two characters could easily have been humans, but that's not as fun. Kids love animals. What was smart was choosing hares and having them constantly drawn in human positions: standing, jumping, stretching, holding each other, etc. Kids are seeing the furry animal, but also seeing a reflection of their parents or whoever looks after them, which can be a comforting sight. Either that or they see what they want as their next pet.
3) It's reassuring. Every kid, actually every person wants to know that she's loved. Look at Drew Barrymore's IMDB listings. That poor girl has been looking for love all over the place. Hearing that someone loves you, or even loves you more, is comforting to a child. They're always worried that they're going to be returned to the stork, so it's wise to let them know that, hey, you're pretty cool.
4) One-Upsmanship (best game ever). It's a horrible game for adults to play with kids, but we can't help it. These kids are all proud that they can walk, but we've been doing that for 20+ years. Get on our level, kids! No, but in all seriousness, that's what children are all about. As soon as they learn how to do something, or think of something clever, they're off on a mission to brag about it. Hell, I learned how to tie my shoes with a splinter in my eye and I wasn't about to let my Mom bring me to the hospital until I showed her what I could do. The constant back and forth between father and son in this book is therefore familiar to children reading or hearing this story and is, again, comforting.
5) It doesn't involve any creepy crawling across floors to stare at a sleeping adult like in that Robert Munsch book. It's just a simple message: I love you, a lot.