If you have missed these essays, go read them instead of the rest of my post. Really. At least just one of them. Matt and Kate are much more worth reading than I am.
I had pre-ordered Love, so I'd already read it before Matt wrote about the debate with his publisher about one of the illustrations. In Loren Long's illustration, a little boy is huddled under a piano and an empty cocktail glass. When I first read the book, I didn't notice the glass. My focus was on the words and the language--the poetry within the text.
I'm not sure that I can make this comparison as powerfully as I want to because I recently loaned my copy of Baby by Patricia MacLachlan to someone so I can't quote the exact passage that opens the first chapter, but bear with me. Papa tap dances after his first cocktail that makes him happy. He stops after his second cocktail that makes him sad. I'm not sure how different Papa's mood change in a middle grade novel is from the empty glass in a picture book is, and what I think is more important is that if a child notices either one of those details, then maybe that child needs to notice those details. Maybe that child is the one who needs to talk about something, and it's those details that provide the opening.
Thanks to this community,