Life by Cynthia Rylant and illustrated by Brendan Wenzel
This picture book is a celebration of life with lush illustrations featuring the natural world and wildlife. It begins by saying that life begins small (spreads of a seedling and a baby elephant), then it grows (spreads of the elephant pack and a multitude of animals, from the jungle to the sea to the Arctic). The book points out that all animals love life, and we each have our favorite part (hawks love sky, snakes love grass, etc.).
Even when life has difficulties (expressed by a spread of a small bird trying to fly through a savage storm), the book reminds us of our purpose here – both to love (spreads of a dog and a cat) and to protect (spreads of a gorilla and a polar bear). Young children may not fully understand the message of the book, which also addresses despair and encourages us to look to nature to find hope, but the message is lovely and the illustrations in the book are soft and muted and beautiful to look at. A book adults as well as children can appreciate.