Janet Lawler's first picture book, IF KISSES WERE COLORS (Dial Books for Young Readers, 2003), received numerous favorable reviews, was chosen as a Main Selection by the Children's Book of the Month Club and is in its fifth print run. It has been published in the U.K., and translated into Korean, Japanese, Spanish, and Hebrew. Her other work includes A FATHER'S SONG (Sterling Publishing, 2006), A MAMA BUG'S LOVE (Little Simon, 2006), and TYRANNOCLAUS (HarperCollins, 2009). Janet has also been published by Humpty Dumpty's Magazine, Shoofly audio magazine, educational publisher Evan-Moor, and Highlights Magazine. Family and nature are two of Janet's favorite themes.
Newcomer Lawler's charming verse expresses a mother's love for her baby, comparing kisses to raindrops, pebbles, glowing comets and other wonders of nature. "If kisses were flowers, you'd have huge bouquets/ of roses and daisies/ picked fresh every day." The easy rhythm of the simple metaphors nicely plays off the sophisticated quality of Jay's (Picture This...) soft oil paintings, finished in a crackling varnish that lends the illustrations a vintage porcelain feel. The opening spread sets the playful tone, as trees bend to fit an oval painting of a mother clad in 1950s full skirt and heels, towering above an oversize baby buggy. A cast of fanciful animal characters (from an elephant in an old-fashioned bathing suit to a dancing penguin and pig) then take over to demonstrate other warmhearted analogies. For the titular phrase, they cavort under a pastel rainbow; they sled down snow-covered hills for "If kisses were snowflakes, your world would be light,/ sparkling with crystals of silver and white." Jay continues to vary the spreads throughout: for "If kisses were blankets," she wraps a circular inset painting in quilting stitches. Author and artist parade the metaphors in the final full-bleed spreads, as the characters travel the rainbow to a closing heart-shaped portrait of mother and child. This affectionate volume will induce a contented feeling as surely as it will inspire loving kisses. All ages. (Mar.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
PreS-A slightly offbeat approach to the familiar topic of parental love. Lawler's verses are simple but the images evoked are sometimes unexpected. Kisses are characterized as colors, pebbles, comets, flowers, raindrops, acorns, snowflakes, and blankets. In each case, abundance is the norm. "If kisses were colors, you'd see every one/of the bands of a rainbow that shines in the sun./If kisses were pebbles, your beach would be lined/with stones by the millions, of all shapes and kinds." Jay's distinctive artwork, "created using alkyd oil paint on paper with crackling varnish," amplifies the verses. Unusual portraits show a pensive pebble, a smiling flower, a welcoming acorn. In other illustrations, anthropomorphic animal children dance together under a rainbow, collect pebbles on a beach, etc. A human mother and child appear on the first page and the last. For adults drawn to Jay's imaginative artwork and/or Lawler's sweetly expressed affection, this book provides an interesting alternative to books like Sam McBratney's Guess How Much I Love You (Candlewick, 1995). It's unclear, however, whether its quiet whimsy will have broad child appeal.-Lisa Dennis, The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, PA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.