In the companion to Stott and Phelan�s Always (2008), a red-headed boy and his mother test the tension between independence and connection in a gentle, uplifting ode to the parent-child bond. During a walk with his mother, the boy sprints ahead and climbs onto a low rock wall. As he balances, he asks his mother about his babyhood, and she responds reassuringly. She fed him and bathed him and dressed him and loved him. At the book�s center, the boy assumes the narrative, telling his mother all of the same things he can now do on his own, for himself and for her. Images of the walk are interspersed with snapshots of the scenes that both characters describe, and Phelan�s warm, sketchy watercolors in a restrained palette of blues, greens, and grays with orange accents reinforce the sweet sentiment. While the touching story, with its simple text and accessible images, is easily suitable for story hour, this will doubtless be a favorite for sharing at home, as well. Preschool-Grade 2. --Thom Barthelmess
About the Author
Ann Stott is a children’s book designer and the author of Always, illustrated by Matt Phelan. About I’ll Be There, she says, "It dawned on me one day that I hadn’t tied my son’s sneakers in months. I suddenly realized that there were many things that I no longer had to do for him. He was growing up." Ann Stott lives in Newburyport, Massachusetts.
Matt Phelan is the illustrator of Always by Ann Stott. His graphic novel, The Storm in the Barn, was awarded the Scott O’Dell Award for nonfiction. About I’ll Be There, he says, "When I was a boy, I never passed up the chance to walk on a stone wall. I’m still tempted by them today." Matt Phelan lives in Philadelphia.