Bedtimes are for quiet snuggles and soft kisses—and perhaps a book or two (or three!). With You Belong Here, families have a beautiful—and award-winning—classic to add to their nighttime routine.
“The stars belong in the deep night sky, and the moon belongs there too,
and the winds belong in each place they blow by,
and I belong here with you.”
Richly illustrated with a soft rhyming verse, each page offers a sensory delight and a beautiful message of belonging. And last month it received Gold at the Independent Publisher Book Awards. Conducted annually, “the IPPYs” honor the year’s best independently published titles from around the world. Now in its 21st year, the 2017 contest drew more than 5,000 entries for 83 categories—with You Belong Here awarded for the Children’s Picture Books (7 & Under) category. It’s a wonderful testament to the significance this title offers to families and their little ones.
“My deepest hope with this title is that it offers comfort, reassurance, and a sense of belonging to everyone who encounters it,” says award-winning author M.H. Clark.
Inside, readers will find charming glimpses into different animals’ homes—from birds and whales to lizards and bees—each noting that this is where each creature belongs. Paced throughout, you’ll also see different human homes and cities, with lyrical words that speak directly to the child.
“Lovingly constructed, reliable rhymes, with pleasing pendular swings, might cause listeners to hug themselves tightly and smile,” notes a starred Kirkus Review. “One could easily improvise a quick melody and sing these words as a lullaby.”
The book’s illustrator, Isabelle Arsenault, is an internationally recognized artist, winning such prestigious awards as the Governor General’s Award for Children’s Literature. “I approach each of my books in a different way. Each text invokes a particular universe, and I endeavor to grasp it by adapting my techniques, my renderings and my graphical approach to each project,” said Arsenault in a Picturebook Makers blog.
Arsenault’s work is a combination of ink and watercolor, and for You Belong Here, she created animals that often appear white with light details amid rich backgrounds. The reason for this is found at the end, with a puzzle being shown put together by a child—which offers a delightful second read for the child to flip back through the book to rediscover all of the “missing pieces.”
“I think the sense of belonging is so critical to all of us,” says Clark. “It’s one of our biggest emotional needs as human beings—to feel that we are where we belong to be, and are loved and accepted there. I hope this book helps people to access that feeling of comfort and acceptance, no matter how old they are.”