And so to make himself feel better, the boy goes around doing good works for people. He cleans and washes, carries trash and picks flowers. Everyone says, "You're such a good boy," but the boy always thinks to himself, "I am not good. I'm bad. You wouldn't love me if you knew what I did." It takes a wise mother to draw out his secret and reveal the truth to him: he is loved no matter what.
Released in Kindle Edition on May 31, 2011 by Abingdon Press, You Wouldn't Love Me If You Knew by author and illustrator Jeannie St. John Taylor is a great book for several reasons. First and foremost, it teaches that love is unconditional and is not earned by doing. It's a great book to read aloud with your younger ones to reassure them that you will always love them no matter what they do. Another plus about this book is the fact that the "very bad thing" is never defined as the little boy whispers what was so bad in his mother's ear. Every child is bound to come to a place in their life where they feel that their actions ostracize them from love. By the omission of what the "very bad thing" was, the author allows children to fill in the blanks and opens up opportunities for discussion. The illustrations do a great job of helping to carry the mood of the book and are colorful throughout. In the Kindle edition, the words are integrated into the pictures rather than being placed opposite the picture--something that shows good taste on the part of Abingdon Press.
Abingdon Press is a Christian publishing house, and the book concludes with the boy realizing that even Jesus forgives and completely accepts him. However, I do not feel that St. John Taylor's message was overtly preachy and forgiveness is presented in very clear terms. A note is included in the back of the book with ideas for parents to use in discussion.
I'm giving You Wouldn't Love Me If You Knew five stars out of five because I feel that it is a book that all children could benefit from reading. The illustrations are funny and cute, and the text is simple but strong. Even parents may feel better after reading this book. After all, we all need to know the reality of unconditional love and the hope it inspires.