My tendency is to shamelessly plug picture books that explore urban experiences. So, what’s up with this somewhat idealized, “growing up on the farm” story?
First, if diversity really means a wide range, then farm life shouldn’t be marginalized. Second, while I’ve known kids from rural areas to have fascinating misconceptions of their urban counterparts. The reverse is also true.
At it’s core “All the Places to Love” is about finding beauty in life and nature. It’s not hard to find beauty here because Mike Wimmer absolutely nails the illustrations. The story is narrated by the boy on the cover who takes us to all the rural places different members of his family love. As he guides us we discover how each generation passes their love of these places to the next. The twist comes when his baby sister is born and he looks forward to the day when he can show her all the places he loves.
Patricia MacLachlan gives us a feel good, poetic look at rural life that boarders on 1950’s pop-culture idealism. While that romanticized slant might strike some adult readers as amazing trite (and stupid); keep in mind that this is a picture book for kids. If you want to deconstruct the situated complexities of class, gender, political contexts and race you might enjoy reading my thesis (when I finish).
But you will have lost your audience at the title.