I'll be You and You be Me
By MRuth Krauss
Illustrated by Maurice Sendak
Publisher: Michael di Capua Books, 40 pages
You know how thrilling love at first sight is? That was how I felt when I opened the book – and promptly fell deeply in love with it.
Its great charm is that the text sounds like Krauss is repeating verbatim the words of children: “Love is the same as like – only you spell it different – only more of the same, sort of – Love has more stuff in it!”
And, of course, Sendak’s pictures! Drawn entirely in fine black ink, there’s a spontaneous, doodly air about them, and a tremendous sense of mischief and fun about his rendering of little people. One can’t help but exclaim, “Cute!” and, “How sweet!” Truly, this is a very cute and sweet book, but not in a sickly, icky way.
It’s about friendship and love, and the funny little scraps kids get into. And it’s also about how children see the world – with imagination and honesty and the best sense of humour. “You look just like an elephant,” says a little girl to her friend. “Oh, thank you very much!” comes the gracious and delighted (and delightful) reply.
“I think I’ll grow up to be a bunny before I grow up to be a lady,” says another tiny tot, to which a little lad responds, “I think I’ll grow up to be a steam-shovel.” This is just one of the many instances when the book made me laugh out loud. My eight-year-old enjoys the humour too and I think so will all children (and adults) who enjoy letting their imagination run havoc.
I’ll Be You and You Be Me goes straight to the top of my “must have” list.