(The story follows a mother & son through the years, starting with the mother singing a lullaby "I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always..." to her son as a baby. What most people find "creepy" about the book is that she continues to do so as he grows into adulthood, including driving to his house & sneaking into his bedroom at night to rock him & sing him the lullaby. Haven't they ever heard of comic exaggeration??)
Several commenters chimed in that they too thought it was a "creepy" tale.
I had to bite my cybertongue to keep from responding, from asking if they were aware of the story behind the story. Because I am sure that some if not all of them would have thought THAT was pretty "creepy" too. :p
The incident has continued to rankle, though, and that's why I am posting about it here. It also made me realize that I have never (I don't think?) written a post on this subject... so here it is.
I know "Love You Forever" is a book that people tend to either love or hate. (It is the author's best selling book, and also the most controversial.) Count me among the fans, and for a very special reason.
You might wonder why I, the childless infertile bereaved mother, would be a fan of a children's book & author. I was long past childhood by the time Robert Munsch began publishing his stories in the early 1980s. The first book of his that I remember hearing about & then reading was "The Paper Bag Princess." It tickled my feminist fancy ; ) and I've bought it for many little girls since then as a refreshing antidote to the Disney Princess cr*p that's out there.
I don't remember how I learned the story behind the story of "Love You Forever." It was certainly after Katie's stillbirth, but possibly before I heard the story told -- and heard Munsch sing the "Love You Forever" song -- in a CBC TV Life & Times episode in 2001.
Robert Munsch is a complex and fascinating man. He's an American who has lived in Canada for almost 40 years.
He studied to be a Jesuit priest, and began working with children in orphanages & daycare centres -- which is how he started storytelling and, eventually, turning those stories into books.
He has struggled with manic depression and addiction, and is still recovering from a stroke he had a few years ago.
And he is the father of two stillborn babies, Sam and Gilly, born in 1979 and 1980 -- and three multiracial adopted children (now adults).
"Love You Forever" was written as a love song to his lost children.
As Munsch explains on his website:
Love You Forever started as a song.A year or two after we saw the CBC Life & Times episode, dh & I saw Munsch onstage at Word on the Street in Toronto, a street festival held every fall to celebrate books and literacy.
“I’ll love you forever,
I’ll like you for always,
as long as I’m living
my baby you’ll be.”
I made that up after my wife and I had two babies born dead. The song was my song to my dead babies. For a long time I had it in my head and I couldn’t even sing it because every time I tried to sing it I cried. It was very strange having a song in my head that I couldn’t sing.
For a long time it was just a song but one day, while telling stories at a big theatre at the University of Guelph, it occurred to me that I might be able to make a story around the song.
Out popped Love You Forever, pretty much the way it is in the book.
He told several stories -- including "Aaron's Hair," which was, I think, his newest book at the time. Most of the kids featured in Munsch's books are based on real-life kids and their stories, and Munsch will often tell the story hundreds of times before it gets published in book form. The real Aaron, now a young man in his 20s, appeared onstage with him.
And then, he launched into "Love You Forever." Munsch is an incredibly animated storyteller. He used Aaron as a prop/baby, rocking him back & forth, back & forth as he told the story. It was hilarious & touching and wonderful. The children loved it.
As the story ended, & I wiped my eyes (and noticed all the parents around us wiping theirs), dh turned to me with a smile, "Let's go," he said, "Nothing can top that." And so we left.
It's still a wonderful memory.
Have you read "Love You Forever?" Creepy or heartwarming or something in between? Did you know the story behind the story? Does that knowledge change your perception of the book?