In the last year my young daughters have asked, “Did you know Trump grabs people’s private parts?” and “Did someone shoot Ariana Grande?” and “What is porn?” and “How far away is North Korea?” The year we just said farewell to was a bad one, whose passing certainly warrants four new picture books where love and fear meet in troubled times.
I recently read the mighty Octavia Butler‘s “Parable of the Sower,” a dystopian road novel of survival published 13 years before Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road.” Butler leaves me trembling. In 1993 her clear vision of an American landscape where Los Angeles is burning, drugs are epidemic, racism rages and guns do the loudest talking was eerily prescient. Since my parenting now involves casual apocalypse prepping, I read Butler’s novel as a how-to guide. I paid searingly close attention to the contents of the Go Bag, the emergency disaster pack, of Butler’s 18-year-old narrator, Lauren. Spoiler alert: The dried fruit, extra shoes and water purification tablets all come in handy. But what most preserves Lauren on the bitter road is her mercy, compassion and love.
Love shines out from gorgeous new books by Matt de la Pena and Loren Long, Oliver Jeffers, Nikki Giovanni and Ashley Bryan, and Amy Krouse Rosenthal.