The Sad, Sweet Story Behind “Love You Forever” by Caroline Robertson

“I’ll love you forever,
I’ll like you for always,
as long as I’m living
my baby you’ll be.”

You’ll probably recognize those words from Robert Munsch’s children’s book, Love You Forever. It’s among the best-selling kids’ books of all time, but it still tends to provoke very different responses among parents. Depending on who you talk to, it’s either either a touching account of a mother’s unending love or the ultimate example of helicopter parenting gone bad.

I admit I have always subscribed to that latter category. It pains me to say it, because I love Mr. Munsch’s books.Mud PuddleMortimerThe Paperback PrincessSmelly SocksStephanie’s PonytailToo Much Stuff: There are well-worn copies of each of them on my daughters’ bookshelf. But while we own a copy of Love You Forever – who doesn’t? – I’ve always found the story to be a little bit creepy.

To recap, the book begins with a mother rocking her newborn baby, singing that now-familiar song as he drifts off to sleep. From there the baby grows into a trouble-making toddler, a caked-in-dirt little boy, a sulky teenager and, eventually, a husband and father with a baby of his own. Through it all, every night, even after he’s moved into his own home, his mother sneaks into his bedroom, pulls him from bed and rocks him while she sings him their song.

I’ve read Love You Forever dozens of times over the years, but today I learned the story behind the book: It was originally written as a song for the author’s two stillborn babies.

As Mr. Munsch writes on his Web site:

“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.”

16 Books To Read Before They Hit Theaters This Year

Some of these I have already read (Gone Girl, The Fault in Our Stars); some I may skip (not a big sci fi/fantasy fan), and some deserves a re read (The Giver), but what a great rederence if you like reading a book and see the movie AFTER!!  I would also add The Wolf of Wall Street!

 

Chris Ritter / BuzzFeed

1. Labor Day by Joyce Maynard

William Morrow and Company

Paramount Pictures
 
 

What it’s about: Over the course of a Labor Day weekend in the late ’80s, 13-year-old Henry and his depressed mother Adele’s lives change when they harbor fugitive Frank Chambers at home. Frank fills a fatherless void for Henry and brings out life in Adele, all while the police are on the hunt for the escaped murderer. It’s a deeply moving read with unpredictable twists, and Kate Winslet is bound to shine as Adele in the film.

Amazon review: 4.2/5 stars

Release date: Jan. 31, 2014 (Click here to watch the trailer)

Starring: Kate Winslet, Josh Brolin

2. The Monuments Men by Robert M. Edsel and Bret Witter

Hachette Book Group

Columbia Pictures
 
 

What it’s about: Based on a true WWII story, museum curators, art historians, and others, collectively called the Monuments Men, risked their lives to save pieces of art that the Nazis planned to destroy. This book is a fascinating story about a rare WWII topic and shows how important it is to cherish artwork. As for the movie, the film features a kick-ass cast and it will be exciting to see everything unfold on the big screen.

Amazon review: 4.3/5 stars

Release date: Feb. 7, 2014 (Click here to watch the trailer)

Starring: George Clooney, Matt Damon, John Goodman, Bill Murray

3. Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin

Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich

David C. Lee / Warner Bros.
 
 

What it’s about: Orphan and mechanic Peter Lake attempts to rob a Manhattan mansion only to find Beverly Penn, the daughter who resides in the home Peter believed to be empty. Thus begins the love affair between a middle-aged Irishman and a fatally ill young woman in a magical New York City. If you’re looking for a novel laced with fantasy and romance, this is a good place to start. Hopefully Colin Farrell and Jessica Brown Findlay do the characters justice!

Amazon review: 3.9/5 stars

Release date: Feb. 14, 2014 (Click here to watch the trailer)

Starring: Colin Farrell, Jessica Brown Findlay, Russell Crowe

4. Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

Razorbill

The Weinstein Company
 
 

What it’s about: St. Vladimir’s Academy is a school for dhampirs, vampire-human hybrids who serve as guardians, and Moroi, “good” vampires with an ability to use magic from one of the four elements (water, fire, air, and earth). Vampire princess Lissa Dragomir and dhampir Rose Hathaway are best friends, connected through a special bond that they can’t quite explain. After escaping school for two years, the girls are brought back to the academy and are faced with Lissa’s mystery element (or lack thereof?) and the danger it brings. The series is six books long, but definitely worth it, and the movie was created by the directors of Mean Girls.

Amazon review: 4.5/5 stars

Release date: Feb. 14, 2014 (Click here to watch the trailer)

Starring: Zoey Deutch, Lucy Fry, Sarah Hyland

5. A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby

 
 

What it’s about: Four people come together on New Year’s Eve on the roof of Topper’s House, a London destination known as the last stop for those who are ready to end their lives. The story is told from four distinct points of view, filled with second chances and regrets. Despite its somber topic, the book balances the provocative and the hilarious, and mixes in intense and moving moments. This just screams indie flick.

Amazon review: 3.7/5 stars

Release date: March 7, 2014 (U.K.)

Starring: Aaron Paul, Rosamund Pike, Imogen Poots, Pierce Brosnan

6. Divergent by Veronica Roth

HarperCollins

Summit Entertainment
 
 

What it’s about: In a dystopian Chicago, society is split into five factions based on personality type (Dauntless, Amity, Erudite, Abnegation, and Candor). When Tris Prior finds out she doesn’t quite fit into any one faction, she’s declared Divergent, a dangerous revelation she must keep secret in order to survive. Once the Choosing Ceremony begins, Tris must decide to either join her family or follow her own path. The book is completely captivating and will keep you up at all hours of the night until you finish. All of the initiation scenes should translate great in film and the fear simulations will be even more exciting to see.

Amazon review: 4.6/5 stars

Release date: March 21, 2014 (Click here to watch the trailer)

Starring: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Kate Winslet

7. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Dutton Books

20th Century Fox
 
 

What it’s about: A tumor-shrinking medical miracle bought Hazel a few years of time, but she’s a terminal time bomb, suffering from stage IV cancer. At a support group for her illness, she meets fellow cancer survivor Augustus Waters, a boy who pretends to smoke cigarrettes and has a prosthetic leg. With a shared obsession for the novel An Imperial Affliction and a similar sense of sarcasm, the two fall in love, despite their inevitable fate. John Green’s story is honest and hilarious, exposing the fear, anger, and sadness that accompanies a terminal illness. It’s an emotional read, and it’s bound to be a heartrending two hours at the movie theater.

Amazon review: 4.7/5 stars

Release date: June 6, 2014

Starring: Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort

8. The Hundred-Foot Journey by Richard C. Morais

Scribner

Stephen Lovekin / Getty
 
 

What it’s about: When tragedy pushes Hassan and his family out of India, they eat their way around the world, settling in Lumière, a small town in the French Alps. The family opens an Indian restaurant that becomes wildly popular among the residents, infuriating their French rival Madame Mallory. After she wages a culinary war with the family, Mallory finally agrees to mentor Hassan, leading him to Paris and the launch of his own restaurant. The novel is endearing, cultural, and a downright delicious read. Not only does Helen Mirren star in the movie, but it’s also produced by Oprah Winfrey and Steven Spielberg.

Amazon review: 3.8/5 stars

Release date: Aug. 8, 2014

Starring: Helen Mirren, Manish Dayal

9. The Giver by Lois Lowry

Houghton Mifflin

Kevin Winter / Getty
 
 

What it’s about: Everything is perfect; diseases have been eradicated, everyone is equal, and society is under control. Each person is assigned a position by the Community, and 12-year-old Jonas has been picked as the “Receiver of Memories.” Only “The Giver” knows the truth of the past, and he must now pass that information down to Jonas. This book has often been described as the first YA dystopian novel (in correlation with the current trend) and it shows that a utopian society has its downsides, like a lack of personal freedom. Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep make this a highly anticipated movie, and hopefully Taylor Swift will prove her acting chops.

Amazon review: 4.3/5 stars

Release date: Aug. 15, 2014

Starring: Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep, Alexander Skarsgård, Taylor Swift

10. Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

Shaye Areheart Books

Exclusive Media Group
 
 

What it’s about: Libby Day was 7 when her mother and two sisters were brutally murdered in an event known as “The Satan Sacrifice of Kinnakee, Kansas.” She testified that the person responsible for the cruel acts was in fact her 15-year-old brother, Ben. Fast-forward about 25 years and Libby is approached by the Kill Club, a group of people obsessed with solving notorious crimes. They believe Ben was wrongly accused, and she is eventually sucked into the investigation to uncover the twisted truth. Christina Hendricks plays Charlize Theron’s mom, so that should be interesting!

Amazon review: 4.2/5 stars

Release date: Sept. 1, 2014

Starring: Chloë Grace Moretz, Nicholas Hoult, Charlize Theron, Christina Hendricks

11. This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper

Penguin Group

Larry Busacca / Getty
 
 

What it’s about: Judd Foxman’s father just died, and on top of that, his wife Jen had an affair with his boss, which recently became painfully public. Judd is forced to sit Shiva and spend seven days and nights with the dysfunctional Foxman clan, facing confrontation and dealing with old grudges. The book is hilarious and the movie features Jason Bateman and Tina Fey. Enough said.

Amazon review: 4.2/5 stars

Release date: Sept. 12, 2014

Starring: Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Rose Byrne, Adam Driver

12. The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Delacorte Press

Universal Pictures
 
 

What it’s about: When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he remembers is his name. His memory is blank, and he’s surrounded by a group of boys in a place called the Glade, a large space entrapped by tall, stone walls. Every 30 days another boy is delivered, but when a girl named Teresa appears in the lift the next morning, her presence is almost as unexpected as the message she delivers. The language is a little tough to get through in the beginning, but once you catch on to the lingo, you’ll be racing to find out what happens. It’ll be very interesting to see how the book is translated in film, especially with the monstrous creatures called Grievers.

Amazon review: 4.3/5 stars

Release date: Sept. 19, 2014

Starring: Dylan O’Brien, Kaya Scodelario

13. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Crown Publishing Group

20th Century Fox
 
 

What it’s about: It’s Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary when Amy mysteriously disappears. Nick is oddly evasive and evidence is slowly going against him, but did he really kill his wife? Gillian Flynn’s novel is packed with suspense, twists, and plenty of emotions. Readers are pretty split on their feelings about the end, but the entire book is definitely thrilling and the movie will probably be just as captivating.

Amazon review: 3.8/5 stars

Release date: Oct. 3, 2014

Starring: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike

14. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

Random House

Vince Valitutti / Universal Pictures
 
 

What it’s about: This true story follows Louis Zamperini, a track star from the ’30s and a participant in the Berlin Olympics. Zamperini became an airman in WWII and in May of 1943, his plane went down, leaving him adrift in the Pacific Ocean with nothing but a raft. Facing starvation, dangerous waters, and a situation in which he is taken prisoner by Japanese forces, this fascinating account is both vivid and powerful. The film is directed by Angelina Jolie.

Amazon review: 4.8/5 stars

Release date: Dec. 25, 2014

Starring: Garrett Hedlund, Jai Courtney, Domhnall Gleeson

15. Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Random House
 
 

What it’s about: Twentysomething Cheryl Strayed lost her mother and her marriage all in a short amount of time. Four years later, with nothing to lose, Strayed took an 1,100-mile solo hike along the Pacific Crest Trail in order to deal with her catastrophic past. This honest memoir is filled with suspense and humor, a journey worth the read. Reese Witherspoon takes on the role of Strayed and she’ll probably be her usual charming self.

Amazon review: 4.2/5 stars

Release date: 2014

Starring: Reese Witherspoon

16. Serena by Ron Rash

HarperCollins

Magnolia Pictures
 
 

What it’s about: The book is a thrilling story that follows newlyweds George and Serena Pemberton on their journey to create a timber empire and ruthlessly kill all who fall out of favor. George fathered an illegitimate child, and when Serena discovers that she cannot bear children, she sets out to kill the son George fathered without her. If Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper’s previous films together are any indication of their chemistry, then it’s guaranteed this movie will be a must-see.

Amazon review: 3.8/5 stars

Release date: 2014

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper

Common Core, NYS and Ficton

This is an excerpt from an article that was published by The Washington Post which examines the difficulty that New York State us having implementing the Common Core Curriculum.  This excerpt explains the limited role fiction plays in the new curriculum.  As a Special Education teacher with a master in Reading Education, and having 25 years teaching students K-adult how to read, and as a life long reader, I fine these standards insulting regarding what quality teachers do in the classroom.

But please, read for yourself:

 

Reduction of Literature in English Language Arts

 Upon reading the modules it becomes clear that literature, particularly fiction, is being devalued.  In the fifth-grade English Language Arts curriculum, there are 11 days devoted to closely reading the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. During the entire year, there are only two works of fiction: Esperanza Rising and Dark Water Rising.  There is instead a volume of informational texts that include From Kosovo to the United States, Sloth Researcher Bryson Voirin, Investigating the Scientific Method with Max Axiom, A Live Interview with Eve Nilson, and The Most Beautiful Roof in the World. These are samples; there are more.

Romeo and Juliet, which has been a mainstay of ninth-grade curriculum in most high schools, is reduced to an excerpt in the modules, while an article about Bernie Madoff is included.

I understand the importance of reading for information and infusing reading across the curriculum.  I worry, however, that literature is being squeezed out by too much informational text in English Language Arts classes. Students need literature. In great novels, they encounter both flawed and heroic characters that help them grow in knowledge of self. They learn about the complexity of human relationships and the rhythm and nuance of beautiful writing. Reading short, informational texts may prepare students for reading tests, but reading full length works prepares students for college.

 

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