If you miss Dr. Seuss — especially his later books, like Oh, the Places You'll Go! — you will smile from ear to ear over Nancy Tillman's rollicking, rhyming lines. If you have ever loved fairy tales, you will be smitten by her fanciful yet life-like paintings. And if you have a child in your life who's learning that perseverance pays off, well then, this book is for you.
Nancy Tillman is the author and illustrator of numerous New York Times bestsellers like On the Night You Were Born and I'd Know You Anywhere. Her mission in creating books is to tell children that "you are loved." In I Knew You Could Do It! this love takes the form of unconditional encouragement:
"I knew you could do it!
I knew that you could!
"Of everyone out there
I knew that you would."
With this opening verse, we see a girl in pigtails lifting her foot high and wearing a smile that's almost a giggle as she crosses a tightrope followed, miraculously, by a fawn who can't resist seeing what she's up to. Each new page-spread with its buoying words has another such mind-boggling picture of a child with an unlikely animal companion. A young cowboy, for instance, lassoes the moon from a cow's back (no doubt the one who jumped over that very same moon).
The book doesn't gloss over the difficulties: Consider, for instance, the gumption of the wee girl and her bear cub sidekick playing tug-of-war with two enormous full-grown bears. It acknowledges the backbone that such accomplishments demand — and it gives young people a much needed chance to pause in all the effort that life requires and relish what they've done: "... today you're the star of your own fairytale."
All this encouragement is meant for four to eight year olds. But don't be surprised if you're sharing the book with a young friend and come away feeling happily and rightfully proud of yourself, too.