Before You – Marvelous Metaphors!


I appreciate a good metaphor. I really appreciate an entire book full of them. But I lurrrrve a quirkily illustrated book full of them that makes me smile as I page through AND makes my heart go all melty at the end. Oh, and it rhymes, too!

No wonder I fell hard for Rebecca Doughty’s BEFORE YOU.

Note: I had to take a photo of the cover to get it big enough to post. Please know that the background of the book is not violet, but a nice, bright white.

Title-page summary: “Celebrates how the love of another can change one’s life for the better.”

The book starts out with a section of often-humorous metaphors describing life before “you.”

“I was a flower with no pot.
I was a polka with no dot.”

The polka page shows happy animal duos dancing the polka far across a room (accompanied by a pig playing an accordion), and in the foreground, we see the back of another pig, standing alone and forlorn. Ms. Doughty’s art is deceptively simple, but boy, does she have a way with body language and facial expressions! Too funny (and sometimes pathetic, but in a cute and funny way).

So we meet a diverse cast of characters, animals and inanimate objects alike, all of whom represent the “before you” portion of the book.

Then the tone changes with this line: “Then you arrived and changed the tune.” From here on, we get metaphors describing how life has changed, like:

“You put the splash into the puddle.
You put the squeeze into the cuddle.”

You (may) know how I hate giving away an ending, but in this case I have to, because it’s what had me hugging this book as I walked it to the bookstore’s cash register. First, the setting: A bird on a branch, cheek to cheek with her little one.

“Now I’m a bird and you’re my song.
So tell me now …

…what took you so long?

See? Melty.

This book could represent romantic love, friendship, or the love of a parent for their child. I think it would be a lovely baby shower gift, which is why I’m ordering more.

And, teachers? This would be a great book to introduce kids to metaphors.  🙂

Jill Esbaum

Jill Esbaum has been picture book crazy since her 3 kids were little, and especially so after her first was published in 2004 (Stink Soup). Recent titles: Stinkbird Has a Superpower, Jack Knight's Brave Flight, Where'd My Jo Go?, Frog Boots, How to Grow a Dinosaur, Frankenbunny, If a T. Rex Crashes Your Birthday Party, Elwood Bigfoot– Wanted: Birdie Friends!, Teeny Tiny Toady, I Am Cow, Hear Me Moo!, and more. Coming in 2024: Parrotfish Has a Superpower and Bird Girl: Gene Stratton-Porter Shares Her Love of Nature with the World. She's also the author of many nonfiction books for young readers, as well as an early graphic reader series, Thunder & Cluck. Learn more at


  1. You’re right. This is a great mentor text for metaphors. Thanks for sharing this neat book!

  2. Wow, Jill! Deceptively simple, yet multi-layered. I can’t wait to run out and read the whole thing. Pure deliciousness <3!
    Thanks for sharing.

  3. This one caught my eye at the library a few weeks ago. Sweet, sweet, sweet.

  4. This book sounds awesome! Thanks for bringing it to our attention.

  5. Wow, this book is a winner on so many levels! I’m inspired and in awe. Thank you.

  6. Jill nailed it with the best descriptive word “melty.” Can’t wait to read it – reminds me a bit of the old song “Till There Was You.” 🙂

  7. This sounds so lovely! I’ve got it on order and can’t wait read it. Thanks, Jill!!

  8. This sounds like a wonderful book on many levels. The subject matter, the text (metaphors) and the illustrations! Can’t wait to read it!

  9. Put this in my order cart – can’t wait to see it up close! Thanks for this, Jill!

  10. This sounds like a darling book. I want it!!

  11. Love it!!

  12. Thank you, Jill! It looks like a keeper. Off to order!

  13. Thanks Jill! Can’t wait to see it.

  14. This is every teacher’s dream . . . the perfect book to teach about metaphors.

  15. Cassie Bentley

    Great book. Love the metaphors. This could almost be a song.

  16. LeeAnn Rizzuti

    This sounds like chocolate for picture book lovers–especially the melty bits. Thanks for the recommendation, Jill.

  17. Oh! This sounds just so wonderful. Thank you for sharing Before You.

  18. I fell hard for this one, too, Jill! xoxoxo

  19. Going to the bookstore now! This looks and sounds wonderful.

  20. Jill, I can’t wait to read it. Thanks for sharing.

  21. I absolutely adore that cover, Jill!! Thank you for sharing. I will look for it ASAP!!

  22. Patricia Nozell

    This one sounds so sweet and funny. I’ll be on the lookout for it!

  23. Requested for purchase at my library! Sounds like one I’ll love.

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