Books CORL (Check Off your Reading List) Challenge 2014 GB Challenges Picture Books Reading Ruminations Reading Themes War, Poetry, Refuge, Peace

[Saturday Reads] Nancy Tillman’s Message of Love for Children around the World – A 3-in-1 Special


Myra here.

Every Saturday we hope to share with you our thoughts on reading and books. We thought that it would be good practice to reflect on our reading lives and our thoughts about reading in general. While on occasion, we would feature a few books in keeping with this, there would be a few posts where we will just write about our thoughts on read-alouds, libraries, reading journals, upcoming literary conferences, books that we are excited about, and just booklove miscellany in general.

Today, I am glad to share the peacekeeping aspect of our reading theme this July-August.

Super special thanks to Iphigene for creating this visually-arresting widget!
Super special thanks to Iphigene for creating this visually-arresting widget!

We have just shared a few picturebooks over the past week that dealt with war and conflict, and so I felt that it would be good to end the week with a message of love.

I’d KnowIMG_4845 You Anywhere my Love

Written and Illustrated by: Nancy Tillman
Published by: Feiwel and Friends, 2013
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

Nancy Tillman is known for her message to children all over the world: “You are loved.” Written from the perspective of a parent to a young child, this picturebook tells the child that while she may assume different guises, play pretend, and claim she is someone (or something) else, a parent’s love would know her “anywhere” by the gleam in her eyes, the sound of her feet, and her whiskery kisses.

There is always something very distinctive about Tillman’s artwork which I have always felt is the strongest aspect of her picturebooks.


The rhyming text for this particular book is not as fluid as the other two books below, but the beautiful and heartfelt message is conveyed, without it appearing insincere or forced.


Even grown-ups who have strayed considerably from who they were as children would find comfort in the words found here. No matter how beastly, how fierce, how brutish you may look, one hears the loving voice that says “I’d know you anywhere my love.”

The Crown on Your HeadIMG_4848

Written and Illustrated by: Nancy Tillman
Published byFeiwel & Friends, 2011
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

I loved the glowing halo of the children found in the exquisite pages of this picturebook. As Tillman poetically exclaims, this ‘crown’ is quite special:

It was made up of sparkling, glimmering things

like moonlight and fireflies, and dragonfly wings.

I am one of the few grown-ups who will claim unabashedly that I still believe in fairies and magic and ‘sparkling glimmering things’ so this is one of those picturebooks that I hold close to my heart. And just look at this gorgeous artwork below:


I love how magic drips in Tillman’s fingers, transforming red into gossamer butterfly wings and greens into silent, nebulous echoes of a distant forest. This book essentially claims that each child is born with a crown making them special, magnificent, grand – and that they are born to shine.


And that every child in the world has it:

No one’s is brighter, no one’s is duller

It’s only a crown of a different color.

All they need to do is believe.

IMG_4841Wherever You Are, My Love Will Find You

Written and Illustrated byNancy Tillman
Published by: Feiwel and Friends, 2010
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

This, by far, is my favourite among all these three books. While it may sound stalkerish in this day and age, the voice has a gentle aspect to it that clearly shows how magnified a parent’s love can be. This love is also made manifest through the sparkly, glowing things that trail along the child in this story, kind of like a glittery shield that provides comfort in the knowledge that no matter how far the child strays, a parent’s love would always be there to keep them safe.


There are so many ugly things that happen on a daily basis in our world today: from hate crimes to various forms of abuse; from xenophobia to intolerance; from natural disasters to mindless violence. I find these picturebooks a refreshing change from this constant noise of hatred and darkness.


It provides a healing touch to an exhausted soul, reminding me that while there is darkness out there, while war occurs between nations and within one’s self, there will always be a light within that shall never fade. And that while a loved one may be physically far away, mayhaps in a parallel existence altogether: “wherever you are, my love will find you.”



Reading Challenge Update: 158, 159, 160 (25)

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

3 comments on “[Saturday Reads] Nancy Tillman’s Message of Love for Children around the World – A 3-in-1 Special

  1. Nancy Tillman is awesome. She’s from Oregon and she’s done a reading at our store. I love recommending her books for their sweet messages and beautiful illustrations. Someone ended up buying On the Night You Were Born for her friends 40th birthday!


    • Oh wow, what a thrill it must have been to hear her read her books aloud, I am green with envy. 🙂 Glad to know about the picturebook gift given to a 40 year old, sounds awesome!


  2. Nancy Tillman does beautiful work, but my absolute favorite is still ON THE NIGHT YOU WERE BORN 🙂


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