Today, I’m excited to be talking with Alison Goldberg about how her children inspired her book, her collaborative blog M is for Movement, and what kind of vehicle she would most like to be.
What inspired you to write I Love You for Miles and Miles?
When my children were in preschool, they adored trucks and trains. In addition to setting up long and windy train tracks in our living room each day, we planned many family outings with vehicles in mind: train rides, a tractor parade, a visit to a friend’s construction business. My son was so obsessed with trucks that the teachers from an older classroom at his preschool invited him to present to their class as a “guest expert” on the topic.
At bedtime, the “How much do you love me?” game turned into a comparison of our love to the size, strength, length, and other characteristics of all things that go. After many nights of coming up with these examples for my own children, I thought this could be a fun take on a love book.
What was your favorite picture book when you were a child?
One of my favorite picture books as a child was Alexander and the Wind-Up Mouse by Leo Lionni. I’ve always been a rock collector and the magic in this story depends on Alexander finding a purple pebble. The collage is gorgeous—I love multimedia art. Rereading it as an adult, I’m still drawn to the story’s theme of empathy.
Before writing for children, your work centered on economic justice. You’ve lived on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation in Montana and the eastern region of Ghana, Can you talk a little about your work?
For several years I worked for non-profit organizations focused on social and economic justice. In the Northern Cheyenne Reservation, I learned from strong community leaders who expanded out-of-school-time opportunities for kids. In Ghana, I met remarkable organizers who built community infrastructure, improving access to clean water, nutrition, and schools. And in a variety of communities in the United States, I’ve been inspired by amazing activists who are challenging inequality through a variety of strategies.
Have these experiences influenced your writing for children?
When my daughter was born, I sought out books that would help to educate her about the problems of inequality and injustice. I knew I wanted to start early conversations about the history of social movements and the potential we all have to create change. Picture books felt like an important part of framing this. I found a small number of powerful books that helped guide our discussions and also inspired me to write manuscripts along these lines. So from the start, my work on social and economic justice issues has been at the center of my motivation for writing for children. And while I Love You for Miles and Miles is not focused on these issues, a portion of the proceeds from the book will support the Campaign to End Childhood Hunger.
You began blogging about activism in children’s literature in 2012 and in 2017 established M is for Movement, a website that presents authors and illustrators blogging about a variety of social issues. Can you talk about this work briefly? What kinds of changes have you seen in the years since you began and today?
In 2012 when I first started writing for kids, blogging about books with activism themes was a way to dive into the literature and interview like-minded children’s book creators. I learned so much from these conversations, and though I wasn’t able to blog consistently, I always hoped that someday it could grow into something more.
Then in 2017, through conversations with Innosanto Nagara (A is for Activist), Janine Macbeth (Oh, Oh, Baby Boy!), and other collaborators, together we decided it was time to start a group blog on this topic. Certainly the events of the past year underscored why it’s so important for kids to learn about social justice issues and how they have agency to create change. M is for Movement launched in October. We’ve been grateful to connect with a number of other children’s book creators and librarians who are creating content, and hope that the blog will be a space for a variety of articles, interviews, and reviews. We recently did a roundup of some recommended 2017 activist kids’ books and it was powerful to see how many books with this theme were published. I don’t know if there’s been an increase in recent years or not, but my hope is that those who want to explore these topics in their writing will find a community of children’s book creators to help support that work.
If you were one of the vehicles in I Love You for Miles and Miles, which one would you be and why?
If I could choose to be one of the vehicles, I think I’d go with the crane (“My love for you is/Taller than the tallest crane/Rising up, up, up,/Reaching toward the sun.”). I enjoy rock climbing and mountaintop views so I’d be curious to see things from the perspective of a crane.
Do you have a favorite place you like to write?
I usually write at home, but once in a while I travel about a half hour away to a magical library in Concord, Massachusetts for a mini writing retreat.
As a New England coastal resident, I couldn’t help but notice that you have an ocean theme to your website—a beautiful image of a whale on your Homepage and a collection of shells on your About page. Do you have a special affinity for the sea? If so, do you connect the sea to your work?
Thank you! I love the ocean, and in addition to rocks I’ve collected many shells and other found objects over the years. The ocean-related images are all connected to the middle grade novel I’m working on. Since I started that story I’ve photographed, drawn, and collaged my characters in a variety of materials.
What’s up next for you?
More picture manuscripts and draft #4 of my middle grade novel.
Since Celebrate Picture Books is a holiday-themed blog, I can’t let you go without asking a couple of holiday-related questions, so…
What is your favorite holiday?
A new favorite holiday of mine is Valentine’s Day. This is not only because I’m sharing my new picture book about a parent’s or grandparent’s love for a child, but also because my kids and I took part in an event last year that expanded my idea of the holiday. Students from a nearby school organized a Valentine’s Day “Love March” to take a public stand opposing discriminatory policies and express what love means to kids. They carried signs about inclusiveness, respect, kindness, and solidarity. I found this to be a meaningful way to celebrate the holiday and I hope to join their march again this year.
Click here to get this adorable I Love You for Miles and Miles Valentine’s Day Card to share from Alison Goldberg’s website.
Thanks so much Alison! It’s been terrific getting to know more about you and your work. I wish you all the best with I Love You for Miles and Miles and your future projects!
You can find I Love You for Miles and Miles at these booksellers
Signed copies of I Love You for Miles and Miles are available from Porter Square Books
You can connect with Alison on
Review For Celebration of Life Day
About the Holiday
Today’s holiday is all about celebrating the children and grandchildren in our lives and what makes each one truly unique. When you watch your own children or those in your care grow and develop their own personalities, talents, and dreams, you realize that each one is an individual with a bright future ahead of them. Take the opportunity of this special holiday to encourage your children, support them, and—most of all—tell them how much you love them every day.
I Love You for Miles and Miles
Written by Alison Goldberg | Illustrated by Mike Yamada
Love—like air—is one of those things that everyone needs. People wonder about it, write about it, and talk about it. But, like air, love can’t been seen—how do you measure it? How do you weigh it? How do you let kids see it? I Love You for Miles and Miles shows you! Opening the cover, you read “My love for you is / Longer than the longest train / Linking engine to caboose, / Winding for miles and miles.”
If love is long, can it be wide? Sure! How wide? “It is wider than the widest big rig” on the highway. When you hug your child with all your might, they know that your love for them is continuous and “stronger than the strongest excavator / Scooping heap after heap….” Such strong love runs “deeper than the deepest drill / digging down, down, down, uncovering mysteries.”
Since love burrows deep, it makes sense that it can soar as well. How high? Look up at cranes on a construction site and imagine a love that goes beyond higher, a love that “reaches toward the sun.” While some days may hold hardships, you can assure your child that your love always remains “smoother than the smoothest sailboat” navigating the waves and changing winds.
When your child needs a hug, a kiss, or some special attention now, you can reassure them that you will be there “faster than the fastest fire truck / Hurrying faster, faster, / Rushing to you, anywhere you are.” If your child wonders if love can handle anything that comes along, remind them of the tractor, “planting crop after crop, / Helping through mud and muck.”
The obstacles that life throws our way are manageable, you can tell your child, because like the biggest dump truck, you can help remove them and fly “above all the rain” like an airplane. And at the end of the day, your love guides them “home, day or night” with the steadiness of a tugboat.
And for the days and years ahead, when your child sees that long, long train, they will understand when you say that is “my love for you… / Riding from station to station, / Traveling with you always.”
In her sweet tribute to a parent’s or caregiver’s love, Alison Goldberg gives concrete shape and weight to that feeling of love which can be so hard to describe. Little ones awed by the size and power of vehicles and machines, will readily recognize and understand the comparisons and be excited to share their own abundant love. Goldberg’s short verses are composed of words most young readers know, and by using comparative and superlative forms of the adjectives, she fosters a deeper comprehension of how love transcends even the biggest, longest, strongest, or toughest things a child can imagine. The first-person perspective allows not only the adults reading to express their love but also the children listening to say, “yes, I feel this way too.”
Mike Yamada’s stunning two-page spread illustrations, full of vivid color and dramatic perspectives, will delight little readers. A cub and adult are at the controls of each vehicle, the little one driving or guiding when possible, or being helped if needed. Young readers will love lingering over each page to view all of the realistic elements on every vehicle or machine. The sweet, happy looks between adult and cub reinforce the strong bond between them. Gender-neutral clothing and first-person point of view makes this a universal book.
I Love You for Miles and Miles is an adorable and meaningful book for adults and children to share and would make a great addition to home and classroom libraries. Besides fun at bedtime, it would make a terrific take-along book for car trips or waiting times, and the theme can easily be extended to an “I-Spy” type of activity while out driving or walking around the neighborhood and beyond.
Ages 2 – 6
Farrar, Straus and Giroux Books for Young Readers, 2017 | ISBN 978-0374304430
Discover more about Alison Goldberg and her work on her website
Learn more about Mike Yamada and view a gallery of his artwork on his website.
Enjoy this I Love You for Miles and Miles book trailer!
Celebration of Life Day Activity
Tugboat Bathtub Toy Craft
Tugboats are always there when a ship needs help or guidance—just like a parent or caregiver. With a few recycled materials, adults and children can have fun making this Tugboat Bathtub Toy that you’ll love to play with in the tub or pool.
- Printable Windows and Life Ring Template
- Printable Deck Template
- Container from a grocery store rotisserie chicken
- One 16-ounce cream cheese container with lid (or other such container)
- Paper towel tube
- Cardboard (can use a cereal box)
- Foam sheet in whatever color you would like the deck to be. (optional, see To Make the Deck options)
- Two colors of paint in whatever colors you would like your cabin and deck (if painting it) to be
- Paint brush
- Glue gun
To Make the Deck
- Trace the deck template on the cardboard, cut out and trim if necessary.
- Trace the deck template on the foam sheet, cut out and trim if necessary. The foam sheet gives waterproofing to the cardboard deck.
To Make the Boat
- Wash and dry rotisserie chicken container. The curved part of the container will be the front of the boat.
- Set the cardboard into the rim of the rotisserie chicken container. If needed glue with hot glue gun.
- Set the foam sheet on top of the cardboard
To Make the Cabin
- Print and cut out the windows, life ring, and deck template
- Wash and dry cream cheese container
- Paint the cream cheese container in the color chosen, let dry
- Put the lid on the cream cheese container to make the roof of the cabin
- Glue or tape the windows to one curved side of the cream cheese container
- Glue or tape the life ring to the opposite side of the cream cheese container
- With the glue gun attach the bottom of the cream cheese container to the deck, a little forward of half-way
To Make the Steam Pipe
- Cut a 5-inch section from the paper towel tube
- Paint alternating stripes of the deck color and the cabin color, let dry
- With the glue gun, attach the steam pipe to the deck close behind, but not touching, the cabin
Enjoy floating your tugboat in the bathtub or pool!