Tuesday, March 22, 2011

I'll Always Love You

Hans Wilhelm

Children just seem to get the idea of love very easily…especially when love is shared with a pet. This pet is Elfie – “the best dog in the whole world”. Elfie grew up with her boy, even if she did grow a little faster than he did, it didn’t matter to either of them. Adventures were more fun shared together as birthdays were, and naps were too. She was special to everybody in the family…mom, dad, little sister, and bigger brother. They all said so, but only her boy told her he loved her every day and every night. They did everything together, including evading trouble. Then, Elfie stopped growing, and started slowing down. A trip to the vet and Elfie’s family got sad. Elfie was just getting old and her family knew they wouldn’t have much more time together.

The illustrations are muted watercolors to engage the younger age children. So beautifully done, the illustrations even catch the expressions on Elfie’s face. Wilhelm has taken the issue of a pet’s death and gently incorporated it into I’ll Always Love You. Death is a concept, or issue, that small and older children may have a difficult time understanding. Yet, within these pages, her boy tells Elfie every day, “I’ll always love you”, and when her time comes, he knows he did right by his best friend. There’s a lesson here for families everywhere, with or without pets. Remember to tell those you love, that you love them. When you read this gentle love story to your children, love on them and tell them how much you love them also.
As a side note, I first read this charmer to my oldest son, now 29, then my youngest son, now 20, and still have the original copy that was purchased in the mid 1980’s.
The author has informed me it will soon be available by Random House as a hard cover. Wilhelm’s book placed on the 1987 Massachusetts Children’s Book Master List.

BIBLIO: 1985, Random House Books, Ages 4 - 8, $6.99.
REVIEWER: Debby Willett
FORMAT: Picture Book / Easy Reader
ISBN: 978-0-517-57265-8