Hi all, Matt de la Peña and Loren Long here. We’ve spent the past few weeks on the road talking about our new picture book, LOVE, and we thought it would be cool to share a little about our inspiration for the project. Thanks for your time!

Love Matt de la Pena CoverMatt: Hey Loren, I know you tried a completely new medium for this project. Can you talk about that decision and tell us what technique you chose?

Loren: Matt, nice of you to ask. Your manuscript reflects many layers of love, sometimes perfect, sometimes beautiful. But sometimes it’s vulnerable, and sometimes it’s messy. Love is not always perfect and sometimes it’s out of our control. I wanted to reflect this in my art for our book. So to illustrate LOVE, I made monotype prints on a printing press, cut and collaged the individual prints, and painted on top of them. It was the first time I’d ever worked this way. It was a little scary but also gave me an adrenaline rush to try something brand new after many years of artistic comfort.

Matt, you and I have talked a lot about how we come from different backgrounds, different cultures, belief systems, and childhood experiences with love. We also recognize how love brings our different lives together. We’re both so proud to put LOVE into the world. Do you have any advice for how teachers and librarians can use our book in the classroom?

Matt: One of the most humbling parts about writing for kids is hearing what they bring to a given text. Truth be told, a story isn’t fully realized until a reader puts pieces of him or herself into the margins. Love is something we all know. But we know it in different ways. While on the road we’ve met with teachers who are using the book to help students explore their emotional interiors. Many are using the hashtag #TeachLOVE when sharing their lessons and experiences online. The kids are coming up with amazing examples of love in their own lives. It really blows me away when I see a teacher in Wisconsin sharing a LOVE-inspired lesson plan online with a teacher in Florida. That collaboration is as wonderful to witness as the lessons themselves.

Love Matt de la Pena

Love Matt de la Pena

Love Matt de la Pena

Loren, it’s been amazing and inspiring to hear the young people we meet on the road share unique definitions of love and the way it has functioned in their lives. In fact, it makes me a little jealous. So why don’t we close out this back and forth by giving it a shot ourselves. Ready? How would YOU end the following sentence: Love is . . . .

Loren: Love is… Watching my wife taking care of MY aging mother. While I’m on the road, presenting books to children, she takes my mom to all her doctor appointments, sorts her daily medications and manages all her bills. Her selfless actions just blow me away. Okay, back at ya Matt. Love is . . . .

Matt: Ooh, that’s a good one, brother! Okay here goes mine. Love is . . . My 3.5 year old daughter pulling a favorite picture book off the shelf, bringing it over to me and then climbing into my lap for story time. She doesn’t even say a word. It’s just our thing. To me that’s love, man. You and I have been on the road for a stretch. But I can’t wait to get home so I can resume reading to my little girl. I get chills just thinking about it.

About the Authors:


Matt de la Peña is the author of Last Stop on Market Street, which won the Newbery Medal and was chosen for a Caldecott Honor. He is also the author of the award-winning picture book A Nation’s Hope: The Story of Boxing Legend Joe Louis and six critically acclaimed young adult novels. Matt teaches creative writing and visits schools and colleges throughout the country. Matt lives in Brooklyn, NY. You can visit Matt at mattdelapena.com or on Twitter @mattdelapena.







Loren Long is the author and illustrator of the bestselling Otis series. He’s also the illustrator of the bestseller Of Thee I Sing by Barack Obama, as well as the re-illustrated bestseller The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper. He lives near Cincinnati with his wife, two sons, and two Weimaraners. Visit him online at LorenLong.com or on Twitter @lorenlong.