I think that a love letter needs to be something about the recipient, mailed or given, and on paper that can be kept forever as a treasure. Ron Berman, when he was a guest on Love Letters Live, brought a new light to the question of what is a love letter in saying that his last children’s books were love letters to his grandchildren.
I could see they were written with huge love and as a forever gift. But I could also see it would be a real love letter if Ron mailed a copy to each grandchild with a personal note in his own handwriting. How priceless will that be when his grandchildren’s grandchildren find it! Handwriting of a long gone generation is a heartbeat from yesterday, and you cannot underestimate the power of that.
Ron’s new book Dude is his love letter to those adorable, but endangered, critters that live on California’s Coast. I like that idea a lot, love letters to the endangered. They need our encouragement and our awareness of approaching peril. Dude is Ron’s 4th children’ book, following “Sasha the SF Sea Lion”, “Clyde the Cable Car” and “Old MacDonald Had a Wedding”.
Dude surfs California’s Central Coast where he rides Santa Cruz’s Big Dipper, shops in Carmel, surf’s the 17 Mile drive, bathes in the pool at Hearst Castle, visits friends on Morrow Rock. He finally returns to the Monterey Bay Aquarium where he is feted in a raucous party by its’ wonderful sea creatures and is crowned Aquarium King. I like anything that celebrates a hazardous adventure with a safe return and being celebrated as a hero. And being made king? Even better. Now what would make this whole thing, by my lights, a real love letter? For someone to get it in the mail. For someone to open the book and see a personal message from Ron himself. What a treasure that would be from now until forever.
I hope Ron sends a copy (with his personal message to the critters) to the aquarium itself to be kept perhaps in the archives and brought out some day 50 years from now to be put on display with some new presentation about extinct animals or animals brought back from the edge of obliteration. Let’s think of the generations to come and how much more precious this will be when it is a part of children’s book history. Books, by the way, last longer than cds and vcrs in that you will never need a suddenly defunct machine to watch or listen to it. All you will ever need is a willing and loving adult to read it.
So maybe you could send a copy yourself to some child you love and write a note in your own handwriting on the inside front cover. A note about why you are sending this book and maybe that reason is that you love this child so much and know how brave he or she is just like Dude and whatever else you know about the children in your life who are heroic, curious, smart and, well, you finish it. So, the answer is yes a book can become a love letter in countless ways if you make it one with a personal twist that says, “this is from me to you and no one else.”
Best place on land to find Dude, as well as “Sasha the S.F. Sea Lion” and “Clyde the Cable Car” is at Book Passage in the Ferry Terminal and Greenbrae. $6.95 a copy. Ron’s books are charming while teaching important lessons and delightful to look at with bright imaginative illustrations geared to capturing the hearts of readers.
From me to you with love in the air,