To some, Love You Forever is the most touching picture book ever written about the love parents harbor for their children. A mother sings the same lullaby (I'll love you forever / I'll like you for always / As long as I'm living / My baby you'll be") to her little boy, even when he grows into a middle-aged man living across town. For that reason, others have been mildly alarmed at the book's hyper-sentimental mother/son relationship that maybe could use a few boundaries. (Mom drives to her son's house, for instance, and climbs in his window with a ladder.) But whatever your opinion, Love You Forever by Robert Munsch is undeniably one of the most well-known kids' books around. Even if you don't recognize the book's title, chances are you've heard the doting mother's little song, or seen a dog-eared copy of it on the floor of your nephew's room.
You can bet you'll be hearing a lot of it this weekend when Robert Munsch headlines at the Masonic Temple for Get Lit's KPBX Kids Concert. But Munsch, who's actually written close to 45 books for kids and adults, may have a few surprises in his road kit. The Canadian author and storyteller does live shows all over the world and is also responsible for such kid-endorsed titles as The Paper Bag Princess, A Promise Is a Promise, Good Families Don't and From Far Away.
In fact, Munsch's entire life has been a series of unexpected events. He wasn't an enormous success in grade school: He nearly flunked grades 1 through 4 and never learned to spell. Later, however, he ended up studying for the priesthood and earning two degrees (a bachelor's in history and a master's in anthropology). He was born in the United States but ended up moving to Ontario (and eventually becoming a Canadian citizen) when the Massachusetts daycare he worked for lost its funding. The biggest of Munsch's life surprises, however, arrived with Love You Forever, which became a bestseller in the States without his even knowing it. (At that time, The New York Times rarely updated its children's book list, since the number one spot had been held by Goodnight Moon for just about forever). As of 1999, Love You Forever had sold 18 million copies.
One of the reasons Munsch is so popular with kids is that he not only speaks their language, sometimes he devotes entire stories to them. A great many of his books have kids' names in the titles (i.e., Angela's Airplane, Moira's Birthday and Stephanie's Ponytail) and he says he often meets kids while visiting schools and libraries who inspire new narratives.
So come check him out. He's very friendly, the event is free and you never know -- you could become the inspiration for Joel's Sandwich or maybe Michael's Bicycle.
The KPBX Kids' Concert, featuring Robert Munsch, takes place at the Masonic Temple Auditorium, 1108 W. Riverside Ave., on Sunday, April 17, at 1 pm. Free. Call 623-4262.
Publication date: 04/14/05