Review of Love and the Rocking Chair

Love and the Rocking Chair
by Leo Dillon and Diane Dillon; 
illus. by the authors
Primary    Blue Sky/Scholastic    40 pp.    g
10/19    978-1-338-33265-0    $18.99

In this final collaboration (a note explains that much of the book, which was drawn from the couple’s own experiences, had been finished and put aside before Leo Dillon’s death in 2012), a rocking chair bought in anticipation of a baby’s birth is well loved, well used, and then passed down to the next generation, where the cycle begins again. According to a prefatory art note, the Dillons’ acrylic paintings were inspired by the art of Milton Avery, with flat pastel shades, shapes pared down to essentials, and minimal facial expressions. A very simple book design, with most pages consisting of tall rectangular paintings with text underneath, is occasionally broken up by dynamic double-page spreads full of movement: the couple’s young son pretending that the rocking chair is a “wild horse racing across the plains”; the now-grown-up son’s small daughter pretending that it is a “sailing ship, drifting across the clouds.” Endpapers reflect the passage of time, opening upon a golden sunrise and closing at night, with a full moon rising. This is a quiet story with underpinnings of love, loss, and the strength of family bonds; ultimately hopeful and forward-looking. “Like her grandparents and parents before her, the little girl knew the love of her family would always be there. And that was what mattered most.”

From the September/October 2019 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Martha V. Parravano

Martha V. Parravano is a contributing editor to The Horn Book, Inc., and co-author of the Calling Caldecott blog.

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