Sunday, 24 March 2013

Our favourite children's book ~ No Matter What by Debi Gliori

The children's picture book No Matter What by Debi Gliori is a book that has a very special place in our hearts.

Our copy is a bit torn and battered around the edges, but I don't mind. The rips and the creases show just how much it's been read over the years.

I bought it ten years ago in the aftermath of my marriage breakdown, when both of my girls (then aged 3 and 6) were confused about what was happening. My then 6 year old (now known as The Teenager) kept asking questions about whether I still loved her, and if her Daddy still loved her, and I realised she was confused because her parents had 'fallen out of love' and thought it might happen with her too.

We love this book. Not only are the illustrations beautiful - and the details incredibly witty  - but the story is inspired.  It's the story of Small, a mischievous fox cub, and his mother Large, who tries to explain the unconditional love a parent has for their child. The whole story is written in lyrical rhyming text.

In the months following our separation my girls asked for this story nearly every night at bedtime. We read and reread it. We pored over the pictures. We talked about love. I told them why I'd always love them, no matter what, and they'd play the 'What if....?' game with me, waiting for the answer.

Those three words - no matter what - have become a mantra for us. The number of times I've used them to reassure my girls is innumerable. They've been spoken, texted, written in birthday cards, scribbled on post-its stuck to their school books, and read aloud over and over again.

Even now, aged 16 and 13, my girls love to hear them. 'I love you' is easy enough, but followed by 'no matter what' somehow makes it concrete. Immovable. Reassuring.

It was only when I was looking through the book again last week that I wondered what prompted Debi to write it, so I asked her (via twitter) and she very generously gave me the following answer:

"The book came from watching my (then) 18 month old daughter try and fail to understand why her parents were divorcing. I wanted to explain to her that I'd always love her, that my love for her wasn't divorceable, changeable or conditional. 

That was what I started out to write but I found that what I was really writing was a universal declaration of a parent's love for their child from cradle to grave and beyond. Small Is now 18 years old and still signs off her texts to me as 'Small'. " ~ Debi Gliori

That makes perfect sense to me. Debi wrote the book to do exactly the same thing I was trying to do, and it clearly had the same impact. 

Well, from our little family to yours ~ thank you Debi. Thank you.