Hello, friends. My mother has a huge collection of Robert Munsch picture books leftover from her teaching days. For the past couple of weeks, my children have been reading them. I’m ambivalent about Munsch’s work. I’ve always loved The Paper Bag Princess but find a lot of the other books (Mortimer, Thomas’ Snowsuit) far too shouty and obnoxious. I stand by those judgements. But there’s one about which I was completely wrong.
Before I had children of my own, I really failed to understand Love You Forever. I thought it was syrupy and excessive, and downright creepy at one point. If you’re unfamiliar with it, it’s about a mother who sings to her sleeping son, at various ages:
I’ll love you forever,
I’ll like you for always.
As long as I’m living,
My baby you’ll be.
This happens when he’s a baby, a toddler, a boy, and a teenager. When he’s an adult, there’s a scene in which the mother drives across town, breaks into his house, and rocks him in his sleep, singing the same words. My response as a childless person: low-level nausea compounded by mild derision.
Now that I have children? I get it. I get it. I get it. It resonates so profoundly for me that I can’t get through the book without choking up. Now, I find the scene with the little old lady rocking her sleeping adult child really funny. It’s Munsch at his best: wacky and surreal and emotionally pitch-perfect. And while I don’t see any lullaby B&Es in my future, I completely understand the impulse.
Robert Munsch, I take it all back. How about you, readers? What do you think of Love You Forever, and other Munsch books?