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Reviewed by Kathy Golden for Readers' Favorite
Unconditionally Conditional: How They Love Me. How They Love Each Other. How They Love Others by Michael Brown is a book that presents a great deal of important and serious questions about love that children might be asking, even if only within themselves. The book has the kind of large print and bold images that are engaging to children. Even though some of the questions are emotionally difficult, the illustrations help the overall atmosphere of the book to still feel like one that children can connect with.
One important asset of the book is the fact the questions cover a broad spectrum of love relationships. This includes everything from the idea of parents who met while walking on the beach as well as those who met through a one-night stand. Such examples make it clear that children do know about the variety of ways their parents might have met and that parents needn’t bother to hide the truth, no matter how they met. The book addresses sensitive and painful topics for children such as separation, divorce, and a new man or woman who seemingly takes the place of the missing parent. Hence, such topics open the line of communication for children to speak freely about how they feel when these events happen.
The greatest strength of Michael Brown’s Unconditionally Conditional is the way the questions are presented. Each question has its own page. This set-up easily allows parents or a parent and the child to focus on the one question that is of uppermost concern to the child. In addition, this is the kind of book that children need to be introduced to, just so they can share their thoughts about love in general and so that parents can be aware of and alerted to any concerns children might have about being loved and knowing that they are loved. This colorful book with its animated characters and situations is a great tool to open up free discussion between parents and children and to tackle any insecurities long before they become too deeply rooted for children to share them. In addition, there are enough positive questions about love to help children see early in life what a beautiful experience love can be and that it’s worth having in their own lives when they grow up.