April 19, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

A Heartfelt Holiday | Great Books for Valentine’s Day

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Sweeten up your holiday collections, storytimes, and classroom celebrations with a selection of recent books brimming with hearts and humor, kisses and cuddles, and loads of affection.

Valentine1Catching Kisses. By Amy Gibson. illus. by Maria van Lieshout. Feiwel & Friends. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-312-37647-5. K–Gr 2.

“At any given moment, someone, somewhere, is blowing a kiss. And somewhere, someone is catching it.” Scintillating similes praise the power of these tenderly bestowed tributes. Each is unique (“Some SMACK! Like bubblegum. Some whisper like butterflies”), and once given, they can never be taken away. From Times Square to the Golden Gate Bridge, retro-looking scenes of America provide backdrops for these airy offerings, accentuating the universality of a simple yet heartfelt expression of affection.

Valentine2Foxy in Love. By Emma Dodd. illus. by author. HarperCollins/Harper. 2013. Tr $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-201422-1. PreS–Gr 1.

Emily wants to decorate her homemade valentine with pictures of the things she loves and her friend Foxy is ready to help out. After several swishes of his magical tale (and a few humorous blunders), the room is bursting with balloons (and three mistakenly summoned raccoons), flowers (in place of flour), and more. Foxy explains that the holiday is not about “what you love” but “who you love” and Emily realizes that the answer is right before her eyes. Exuberant artwork and giggles galore make this tale irresistible.

Valentine3It’s Valentine’s Day. By Jack Prelutsky. illus. by Marilyn Hafner. HarperCollins/Greenwillow. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-053712-8; pap. $3.99. ISBN 978-0-06-053714-2. K–Gr 2.

Prelutsky’s volume of easy-to-read poems has been updated with fresh illustrations in appealing candy-heart hues. Blending the humorous with the heartfelt, 14 accessible selections spotlight a youngster who makes a doggie valentine (“she sniffed it very hard,/then chewed on it a little while/and left it in the yard”), a boy who can’t stop himself from devouring chocolates purchased for his mother (“I was stuffed down to my socks…I hope she likes the box”), and more. A charmer for newly independent readers or sharing aloud.

Valentine4Mouse and Mole, Secret Valentine. By Wong Herbert Yee. illus. by author. Houghton Mifflin. 2013. Tr $15.99. ISBN 978-0-547-88719-7; ebook $14.99. ISBN 978-0-544-34353-5. K–Gr 2.

Best pals Mole and Mouse do everything together, including making valentines for their forest animal chums. Amid the pink paper and silver glitter, each friend gets “a funny feeling inside—like butterflies in [his or her] stomach.” When a blushing Mouse begins receiving thoughtful gifts from an anonymous admirer, she is determined to solve the mystery, and the identity of her secret valentine will come as no surprise to savvy readers. This satisfying entry in a superb easy-reader series is illustrated with winsome paintings.

Valentine5Penguin in Love. By Salina Yoon. illus. by author. Walker. 2013. Tr $14.99. ISBN 978-0-80273-600-0. PreS–Gr 2.

Looking for love, Penguin instead finds a mysterious mitten, and his search for its owner takes him on an adventure that involves a sweet-natured penguin named Bootsy, a winding trail of colorful wool, and the match-making intervention of a pair of amorous puffins. This third “Penguin” installment features gentle humor, cozy kindliness, and a bold array of knit accessories just right to warm the loneliest of hearts.

Valentine6Pigs in Love. By Teddy Slater. illus. by Aaron Boyd. Sterling. 2013. Board. $9.95. ISBN 978-1-4027-8621-1. PreS–Gr 2.

Jaunty rhymes capture the many ways that a pack of personable porkers express their affection for friends, family members, and sweethearts. Touches of bright foil add shine to this board book’s amiable artwork and soaring sentiments, trumpeting an upbeat message that “Sows and piglets, hogs, and swine—/everyone’s someone’s valentine.”

Valentine7Valentine Be Mine. By Jacqueline Farmer. illus. by Megan Halsey & Sean Addy. Charlesbridge. 2013. Tr $17.95. ISBN 978-1-58089-389-3; pap. $7.95. ISBN 978-1-58089-390-9; ebook $6.99. ISBN 978-1-60734-467-4. Gr 3–6.

Farmer’s interesting and enlightening overview delves into how the holiday got its name, traditions that trace back to ancient Roman roots, the history of Valentine’s Day greeting cards, the meaning of its symbols, and customs across the globe. The lovely lace-textured collages are awhirl with vintage photos, romantic imagery, and classic quotes about love. Cupid-inspired youngsters will appreciate the easy-to-follow directions for making valentines and tissue paper flowers.

Valentine8The Very Fairy Princess Follows Her Heart. By Julie Andrews & Emma Walton Hamilton. illus. by Christine Davenier. Little, Brown. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-316-18559-2; ebook $9.99. ISBN 978-0-316-23095-7. PreS–K.

Thrilled to celebrate one of her favorite occasions, Gerry uses glitter, sequins, ribbons, and more to make individual cards for all of her classmates. However, when a mix-up on the big day leaves her empty-handed and almost in tears, the youngster must summon her inner fairy-princess sparkle to come up with a clever way to convey her endearments and garner smiles all around. Spirited first-person narrative and illustrations infused with action and honest emotion—and plenty of pink—make this installment in a crowd-pleasing series a winner.

Valentine9We Go Together!: A Curious Selection of Affectionate Verse. By Calef Brown. illus. by author. Houghton Harcourt. 2013. RTE $9.99. ISBN 978-0-547-72128-6; ebook $9.99. ISBN 978-0-547-72129-3. Gr 2–6.

This small-size offering delivers a warmhearted message. Eighteen enchanting poems commemorate loving relationships, from parent-child devotion to close-knit friendships (“We go together/like fingers and thumbs./Basses and drums/.Pastries and crumbs./…Genuine chums). The effervescent offerings are nestled on pastel spreads illustrated with eye-catchingly quirky characters and oddball humor.

Valentine10We Love Each Other. By Yusuke Yonezu. illus. by author. Minedition. 2013. Board. $9.95. ISBN 978-988-8240-56-2. PreS.

Yonezu’s handsomely designed book blends simple concepts with dollops of sweet affection. For example, the first spread proclaims, “Birds love each other,” and displays two bright red feathered friends posed on opposite pages. With a page turn—and a cleverly placed die-cut—the critters are united to form the shape of a heart. Perfect for lap-snuggling or storytime sharing, this interactive offering inspires animal, color, and shape identification as well as hugs.

Joy Fleishhacker About Joy Fleishhacker

Joy Fleishhacker is a librarian, former SLJ staffer, and freelance editor and writer who works at the Pikes Peak Library District in southern Colorado.