Love is Powerful by Heather Dean Brewer, illus. LeUyen Pham

Review by Evelyn Hussey

Illustrated by LeUyen Pham

Candlewick Press, 2020

32 pages, hardback, $22.99 CAD, 9781536201994

Picture book, ages 5-8, grades K-3

Mari ran to the window and pressed her nose to the glass. Far below people walked in different directions. Buses, cars and taxis honked and grumbled down the busy street.

Mari asked, “How will the whole world hear?”

“They’ll hear,” Mama said, “because love is powerful.”

Mari is very small, but she has a big message to share with the world. She has made a sign reading ‘Love is Powerful’and goes with her mother to the Women’s March. The trouble is, will anyone hear her message?

Mari is 7 years old when her mother takes her to her first Women’s March. They make a very special sign together using teamwork and Mari’s crayons to share their message. From all around the world, people are coming together to stand up for what they believe in. Mari and her mother march alongside hundreds of thousands of other people all joining together for the same cause. Mari worries that no one will be able to hear her message over all the noise. But with Mama’s help and Mari’s perseverance, her message that ‘Love is Powerful’ is bound to spread.

Heather Dean Brewer’s lovely story is enriched by the incredible illustrations by LeUyen Pham, art which makes the message of this book all the more powerful. If love is the real truth in Mari’s adventure, the bright colours, detailed crowd scenes, and soaring hearts that leap from page to page carry this message through. Bright pinks and reds light up vast crowd scenes as well as the closeup faces of the marchers. Pham does wonders portraying diverse folk all joining together in loving unity. One image in particular stood out to me: a vibrant aerial of Mari and her mom in the center of a swirl of fellow marchers, their positive message that ‘Love is powerful’ spiralling from person to person, and out into the world. Kids will love poring over the pictures and reading all the different signs people are carrying.

Love is Powerful is simple in its message and in that simplicity, it is strong. The light, simple prose and easy metaphors allowed me to feel like I was there, living what Mari lived. The book performs a kind of care, affection, and unity that lends its readers strength to face the hard, cold wrongs in the world. Speaking up, joining together, and voicing truth can make a difference. As the story progresses, Mari’s message is built up, until it reaches a powerful point of echoing through the streets and bouncing off buildings. Children will be inspired to learn that Mari’s story is a true one, with a note from Mari at the end of the book. I found this book truly beautiful in the message it is sending to kids everywhere: that their words are strong, and most importantly, that love is powerful!

Evelyn Hussey is a BA psychology student minoring in creative writing at UBC. She loves reading memoirs/creative nonfiction as well as realistic fiction. When she is not reading or writing she spends her time rock climbing, binging true crime content or with her beloved dog, Dipsea.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s