The good folks over at www.justonemorebook.com asked me to submit a review of my favorite children's book. They wanted an audio file, so I wrote up this script and recorded it on their voice input line. Figured I might as well share it with you, too ...
Somebody Loves you, Mr. Hatch
Written by Eileen Spinelli
Illustrated by Paul Yalowitz
It's a picture book, so probably targeted at age 3-7 yrs or so, but the story is timeless and ageless. It's still on my bookshelf even though my kids are now teenagers because I love to read it myself ...
This book begins with bland but endearing illustrations that depict the boring and predictable life of Mr. Hatch, a loner who works in a shoelace factory. He is tall and thin, and does not smile. Day after day he lives the same monotonous routine. He has no friends at all. "He keeps to himself." That is what everyone said about Mr. Hatch.
Then one day, a package is delivered to his door. Inside is a huge heart-shaped box full of chocolates, and a note that says somebody loves you. He is so surprised and intrigued and flattered that he does something he's never done before -- he puts on some after shave and goes for a walk. "Maybe," he thinks, "I will meet the person who sent me the candy."
He proceeds to interact cheerfully with the all the people he used to ignore. He helps the local shopkeepers, bakes brownies for the neighbor kids, and makes friends. I love this part of the story -- nothing in the town has changed, but because he changed his thinking, his experience of life changes, too. Each new person he meets could be his Secret Admirer, so he treats everyone as if they are, just in case. And they treat him well in return!
Until that fateful day when the mail carrier tells him there's been a mistake. The package was not addressed to him. The illustrations become grey again as he turns away from the colorful and connected life he'd been living, and becomes a lonely loner again.
But when his new friends get wind of what happened, they cook up a surprise that brings a tear to my eye every time I read it. I don't want to give away the happy ending, so read it for yourself and see. I know you'll be glad you did.
Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch, by Eileen Spinelli
For more information about Karen's parenting consultations, click here or visit www.karenalonge.com