'I'd Know You Anywhere, My Love' a joyful look at children acting like animals

When I see young animals in nature, I can't help but consider my grandsons. Whether it's baby ducks waddling behind their mama, a fawn nursing from a mother deer, lone calves frolicking in the field, or any other number of wild and often wacky little ones, they remind me of my two favorite wee ones.

Seems author Nancy Tillman thinks of wee ones when looking at animals, too. More accurately, she sees children as animals — in the most loving of ways. At least that's the case with I'd Know You Anywhere, My Love, the latest picture book from the award-winning author and illustrator, which I recently had the good fortune of receiving free for review.

I'd Know You Anywhere, My Love

Children across the globe delight in pretending to be animals, and in I'd Know You Anywhere, My Love, the mother of an imaginative child vows to know her child anywhere, regardless of what animal he chooses to be.

In delightful illustrations and magical prose from the mother's point of view, Tillman celebrates a mother's love as her child becomes everything from a rhino to a racoon, a white snowy owl to a blue-footed bobby. She'd know the wild spotted pony by the sound of his feet, she says, the bear cub by his nose, the giraffe by his whiskers.

The sweet story filled with affirmations encourages children to dream big and loud and to have confidence that no matter what they dream, not matter what they become, their mother will always recognize them, always love them.

I'd Know You Anywhere, My Love was inspired by Tillman's own children who, like most children, enjoyed pretending to be various animals when they were young. Here Tillman shares more about how her joyful picture book came to be:

Q & A with Nancy Tillman, courtesy MacMillan Children's Publishing Group

What was the inspiration behind the story of I’d Know You Anywhere, My Love?

I wanted to give children the joy of becoming another creature with the comfort of knowing their parent would always recognize them. And I always love to create interactive pages that allow children to “be” the animal either in action or in sound.

The child in I’d Know You Anywhere, My Love pretends to be many different animals. Why do you think children enjoy pretending to be different people, animals, or things?

It comes naturally to them, probably because pretending is so developmentally helpful. By trying on different personalities, children learn social differences and empathy for others, among many other things. Plus, it’s FUN!

Millions of families across the nation have grown to love your books dearly. What is it about your stories that you think creates such a special connection with your readers — children and parents alike?

I try to give parents words to say what they already feel for their children. Most parents really deeply feel those words, and their children can tell. In their early years, children are little sponges. I love knowing parents are getting those messages of love into their children before many of the world’s other messages make their way in, or before barriers go up.

Your books are heartwarming and very comforting but always close with the phrase “You are loved.” Why?

Quite simply, it’s a message no one gets enough of. It’s the bottom line take-away of all my books, so I always want to end with it.

I'd Know You Anywhere, My Love written and illustrated by Nancy Tillman is available in hardcover, ebook and audio book formats from MacMillan Children's Publishing Group.

Disclosure: I received a copy of the book free for review. Opinions and anecdotes are my own.