Today show anchor Kotb and illustrator Mason follow up I’ve Loved You Since Forever with a second story about parental love and devotion. A bear cub and mother bear prepare to snuggle down for bed as the sun sets over the mountains, rendered in digital art. The bears reflect on “what made us happy all day through.” Prose is written in simple, rhyming verse describing moments of quiet togetherness in the duo’s lakeside meadowland. The bear cub is thankful “for growing tall, for lucky breaks, and even learning from mistakes”—the cub is pictured inching away from a fallen beehive. Other animals are introduced, including a raccoon kit, a rabbit parent and child, and a duck and ducklings, who interact with one another and the cub throughout the scenes. Kotb and Mason follow a familiar formula that seems more for adults than their offspring, but fans will embrace the sentiments. Ages 4–8. (Mar.)
As the day draws to a close, a parent bear recalls those events shared with their child that gratified them, from observing hatching nestlings to the stars that come out at bedtime.
The scansion works and the emotions expressed are sweet, but that's the limit of this book's achievement. Mason is unable to create a coherent visual narrative that explicates and expands on the nonsensical text, which opens and closes with a parental address to "my fuzzy one" but in between is unclear as to who is expressing the syrupy sentiments. The sequence of sentence fragments "For special friends who made me giggle / and silly songs that made me wiggle. // For space to play, for shade to rest, / for secret spots we love the best" is illustrated in two double-page spreads with images of the young bear first playing with a young raccoon and second intently observing a caterpillar. Although that implies the young bear is speaking, the iteration of the refrain that ungrammatically brings the sequence to a close—"That's what made me happy"—seems to bring the narration back to the parent bear. But really, giving up on sense seems to be the best one can expect from a book with a title that inartfully co-opts an adjective as a noun.
Yet another celebrity picture book that will steal sales from far, far better ones. (Picture book. 3-5)