Wendy Anderson Halperin
Simon & Schuster Children’s, 2001
Wendy Anderson Halperin is one of those illustrators: someone whose books you snatch from the library shelves every time you see a new one. Her illustrations are full of rich detail and always evoke in me a longing for family and simplicity. They force you to slow down and enjoy the act of reading, which in our fast-paced culture is a very good thing.
The concept behind Halperin’s book Love Is... is deceptively simple. Selected verses from 1 Corinthians 13 provide the only text (one phrase per double page spread) and the pictures bring the words to life. On the left-hand side of each spread are illustrations of children and adults displaying negative traits and on the right-hand side are the same characters displaying the opposite, positive traits. For example, on the pages for “Love is not irritable or resentful” we first see a girl who is mad that her sister received a more desirable gift than she did; on the next page we see her content with her own gift and happy for her sister. Even though there are only a handful of words per page, there are close to a dozen scenes on each spread, so it takes a surprisingly long time to fully appreciate this wonderful book. It is equally good as a read-aloud and as a read-alone, and a pre-reader could easily enjoy it without an adult at her side.
Love Is… is a hundred good conversations waiting to happen. What does patience look like? What do you think is happening in our hearts when we boast? Why does God require us to love each other? Children are such literal creatures, and this book provides a unique way for them to see and better understand the ugliness of sin and the joy and beauty of love.