Three Squeezes by Jason Pratt

When I was little, my mom used to have a “secret” hand squeeze with my brother and me. She’d take our hands and give them three gentle squeezes to say “I love you,” and then we’d give her four squeezes back, signaling “I love you, too.” Fast forward to becoming a parent myself and these three and four squeezes are now a “secret language” that we share with our own girls. I always assumed this was something unique to our family, until Lauren from Picture Book Playdate on Instagram reviewed Three Squeezes by Jason Pratt, illustrated by Chris Sheban, earlier this fall. I rarely buy a book after reading only one review of it, as I try to at least get it from the library first, but… I knew our family had to own this one. I bought it immediately to give to our younger daughter for her birthday in September and am so glad that we own a book that depicts this special (but apparently not so secret) language in such a beautiful, touching way.

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Three Squeezes is a gently written, softly illustrated ode to the love shared between a parent and a child. Opening with a happy, then sleeping baby, and closing when that baby is a father himself, Three Squeezes welcomes us into the unspoken, inaudible life of a dear father and son. We watch the son grow, we watch triumphs happen, we watch fights threaten relationships, and we watch forgiveness mend hurts. And all along the way, we see how three gentle squeezes send a silent message of the most powerful words parents and children can say to each other: “I love you.”

These three squeezes send comfort in times of fear. Healing in times of hurt. Encouragement in times of disappointment. Hope in times of sorrow, and oh so much more. For most of the book, we watch the father give his son three gentle squeezes (of a finger, a hand, a shoulder, a full-body embrace) while his son grows and changes. Though he grows and changes, his heart stays constant… And when he becomes a father himself, and his father is a grandfather using a wheelchair, the son then uses these three squeezes to send that powerful message to his father. “I love you.”

For as I aged and as you grew,
I know that you and I both knew
that I was saying “I love you”
by way of my three squeezes.

Three Squeezes by Jason Pratt

Advanced apologies if sappy, sentimental books make you cry… Get your tissues ready. Also, you’d better believe I’m adding Three Squeezes to my baby shower repertoire… And getting a copy for my mom for Christmas. Sshhh, don’t tell her!

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