What Is Love? (Hardcover)

What Is Love? By Mac Barnett, Carson Ellis (Illustrator) Cover Image
By Mac Barnett, Carson Ellis (Illustrator)
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A beautiful fable about the nature of love from beloved award-winning picture book creators Mac Barnett and Carson Ellis.

"What is love?" a young boy asks. "I can't answer that," his grandmother says, and so the boy goes out into the world to find out. But while each person he meets—from the fisherman to the actor to everyone in between—has an answer to his question, not one seems quite right.

Could love really be a fish, or applause, or the night? Or could it actually be something much closer to home? This tender, funny tale is an original take on the "I love you" story and a picture book treasure for all ages to read and cherish.

A CLASSIC LOVE STORY: A wonderful narrative voice and spectacular pictures give this book the feel of a modern classic.

A BOOK THAT KIDS AS WELL AS PARENTS WILL ENJOY: Many books about the love between parents and children are told from an adult's point of view. This book begins from the child's perspective, and it's funny and unexpected in ways that kids can relate to, while being thoughtful in ways that adults will appreciate. Like all great children's books, this book can be understood on many levels.

A BOOK ABOUT FINDING YOURSELF: The little boy's journey takes him to many different people, whose descriptions of what love means to them is very much about how they see themselves and their lives.

A GREAT READ-ALOUD: The engaging text is full of surprises and the distinctive voice of the narrator invites audiences to respond.

STAR TALENT: Mac Barnett is a New York Times bestselling author and a beloved figure on the school speaking circuit. Carson Ellis is a Caldecott Honor winner and illustrator of some of the most interesting and beautiful children's books published today. They're an incredible creative duo and longtime friends, working together for the first time on this children’s book.

Perfect for:
  • Fans of Mac Barnett and Carson Ellis
  • Parents and grandparents, educators, and librarians
  • Adding to the shelf alongside classic picture books like The Runaway Bunny, Guess How Much I Love You, and Love You Forever 

About the Author

Carson Ellis is the author and illustrator of the bestselling picture books Home and Du Iz Tak? and has illustrated countless books for children. She lives on a farm in Oregon with her husband, two sons, and numerous animals.

Mac Barnett is the New York Times bestselling author of over 20 books for children, including Extra Yarn and Sam and Dave Dig a Hole, both winners of a Caldecott Honor and the E.B. White Read-Aloud Award. His picture books Leo: A Ghost Story and The Skunk were named two of the Ten Best Illustrated Books of 2015 by the New York Times. He lives in Oakland. You can visit him at www.macbarnett.com.

Praise For…

“[B]oth serious and amusing. . . moving. . . timeless. . . The shapes and patterns of Ellis’s art, combined with the tenor of Barnett’s narration, give this book an air of mystery, whatever love is or isn’t.”—The New York Times

“This poetic story appeals to a wide range of readers. . . Together, the narrative and illustrations are well balanced. . . Young children and their families will enjoy the blend of silliness and beauty in this memorable depiction of one boy’s quest to learn more about love.”—School Library Journal, starred review

“[A] sweet and timeless lesson.”—Kirkus Reviews

“[C]aptured in richly colored gouache illustrations by Ellis [and] distinctive hand-lettering . . . [t]his moving, but never cloying, book—a specialty of author Barnett—will have children putting their inferencing skills to work. . . . Ellis’s subtle details are gratifying—especially the grandmother’s cozy pink house, the book’s beating heart. Wholly lovable.”—The Horn Book Magazine

“Gouache paintings by Ellis (In the Half Room) give the story a fairy tale atmosphere, and a sense of theater, too, as rakishly costumed characters pose like actors on a stage. Barnett (A Polar Bear in the Snow) injects humor by making the book’s hero honest to a fault. . . . Ellis’s spreads . . . retain her distinctive look throughout—an aesthetic perfectly suited to the tender moment when the boy returns home to the person who answers his question.”—Publishers Weekly

“[With] some pleasingly humorous touches along the way . . . Ellis’ gouache art is familiarly spare yet gemütlich, picking up the text’s folkloric mood as the boy travels. [What Is Love?] could lead to some interesting discussions about how we all define love.”—The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

"When a boy sets out to discover What Is Love?, many voices respond, but he must find his own answers in this touching, timeless affirmation of familial and familiar bonds."— Shelf Awareness, starred review

“Barnett’s story is profound and accessible, a tale infused with a sense of adventure and a timeless quality. Carson Ellis’ illustrations add color and energy to the proceedings. Thanks to her fanciful, detailed depictions, each character the boy encounters has a distinct personality. This journey will inspire readers to consider the book’s central question and come up with answers of their own.”—BookPage, starred review

“Lovely and lyrical . . . Flat gouache paintings provide the perfect ethereal setting for the fairy tale–like story. . . . The words and images work together to create layers of thought and understanding, making [What Is Love?] rewarding to a wide range of readers.”—Bookliststarred review


Product Details
ISBN: 9781452176406
ISBN-10: 145217640X
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Publication Date: December 28th, 2021
Pages: 44
Language: English