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What Is Love?

By Mac Barnett ; Illustrated by Carson Ellis
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A tender, funny tale celebrating all forms of love from award-winning and bestselling author-illustrator duo Mac Barnett and Carson Ellis.  “What is love?” a young boy asks. “I can’t answer that,” his grandmother says, and so the boy goe...
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★"Lovely and lyrical . . . Flat gouache paintings provide the perfect ethereal setting for the fairy tale–like story. . . . The words and images work together to create layers of thought and understanding, making [What Is Love?] rewarding to a wide range of readers."
—Booklist, starred review
 

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A tender, funny tale celebrating all forms of love from award-winning and bestselling author-illustrator duo Mac Barnett and Carson Ellis. 

“What is love?” a young boy asks. “I can’t answer that,” his grandmother says, and so the boy goes out into the world to find out. But while each person he meets—the fisherman, the actor, and others—has an answer to his question, not one seems quite right. Could love really be a fish, or applause, or the night? Or could it actually be something much closer to home?

A CLASSIC LOVE STORY: A wonderful narrative voice and spectacular pictures give this book the feel of a modern classic.

A BOOK THAT KIDS AS WELL AS PARENTS WILL ENJOY: This book begins from the child’s perspective, and it’s funny and unexpected in ways that children can relate to, while being thoughtful in ways that adults will appreciate.

A STORY GRANDMOTHERS WILL LOVE: The boy’s grandmother is an essential part of this story. Grandmothers everywhere will appreciate what this book says about their wisdom and affection.

A BOOK ABOUT FINDING YOURSELF: The boy’s journey takes him to many different people, whose descriptions of what love means to them is very much about how they see themselves and their lives.

A GREAT READ-ALOUD: The engaging text is full of surprises and the distinctive voice of the narrator invites audiences to respond. 

STAR TALENT: Mac Barnett is a New York Times bestselling author and Carson Ellis is a Caldecott Honor–winner and illustrator of some of the most interesting and beautiful children’s books published today.

Format: Hardcover
Pages: 44
Size: 9 x 11 V
Age Range: 3 - 5 Years
Publication Date: 12/28/2021
ISBN: 9781452176406
Additional Info:

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Carson Ellis is the author and illustrator of the bestselling picture books Home and Du Iz Tak? and has illustrated countless books for children. She lives on a farm in Oregon with her husband, two sons, and numerous animals.

Mac Barnett is the New York Times bestselling author of over 20 books for children, including Extra Yarn and Sam and Dave Dig a Hole, both winners of a Caldecott Honor and the E.B. White Read-Aloud Award. His picture books Leo: A Ghost Story and The Skunk were named two of the Ten Best Illustrated Books of 2015 by the New York Times. He lives in Oakland. You can visit him at www.macbarnett.com.

★"Lovely and lyrical . . . Flat gouache paintings provide the perfect ethereal setting for the fairy tale–like story. . . . The words and images work together to create layers of thought and understanding, making [What Is Love?] rewarding to a wide range of readers."
—Booklist, starred review

★"This poetic story appeals to a wide range of readers. . . Together, the narrative and illustrations are well balanced. . . Young children and their families will enjoy the blend of silliness and beauty in this memorable depiction of one boy’s quest to learn more about love."
School Library Journal, starred review

★"Barnett's story is profound and accessible, a tale infused with a sense of adventure and a timeless quality. Carson Ellis' illustrations add color and energy to the proceedings. Thanks to her fanciful, detailed depictions, each character the boy encounters has a distinct personality. This journey will inspire readers to consider the book’s central question and come up with answers of their own."
BookPage, starred review

"[B]oth serious and amusing. . . moving. . . timeless. . . The shapes and patterns of Ellis's art, combined with the tenor of Barnett's narration, give this book an air of mystery, whatever love is or isn’t."
The New York Times

"[A] sweet and timeless lesson."
—Kirkus Reviews

"[With] some pleasingly humorous touches along the way . . . Ellis' gouache art is familiarly spare yet gemütlich, picking up the text's folkloric mood as the boy travels. [What Is Love?] could lead to some interesting discussions about how we all define love."
—The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

"Gouache paintings by Ellis (In the Half Room) give the story a fairy tale atmosphere, and a sense of theater, too, as rakishly costumed characters pose like actors on a stage. Barnett (A Polar Bear in the Snow) injects humor by making the book's hero honest to a fault. . . . Ellis's spreads . . . retain her distinctive look throughout—an aesthetic perfectly suited to the tender moment when the boy returns home to the person who answers his question."
Publishers Weekly

[C]aptured in richly colored gouache illustrations by Ellis [and] distinctive hand-lettering . . . [t]his moving, but never cloying, book—a specialty of author Barnett—will have children putting their inferencing skills to work. . . . Ellis's subtle details are gratifying—especially the grandmother's cozy pink house, the book’s beating heart. Wholly lovable."
The Horn Book Magazine