Here Comes Valentine Cat

illus. by Claudia Rueda. 88p. Dial. Dec. 2015. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780525429159.
PreS-Gr 2—In this creatively presented holiday title, an unidentified narrator speaks directly to Cat, trying to convince the disgruntled feline to make a valentine for a friend. The narrator insists that the holiday "doesn't have to be all mushy." The conversation continues with Cat communicating through eloquently illustrated signs. One sign shows a particularly dastardly portrait of Cat's new canine neighbor. Cat automatically rejects the idea of sending a friendly valentine to Dog. Dog is noisy and keeps throwing things over the fence. Cat vehemently clings to the opinion that dogs are mean and undeserving of Valentine's wishes until an unexpected event changes everything. The humorous ink and color pencil illustrations of the stout, sand-colored kitty will endear Cat to young readers, and they will appreciate the lesson Cat learns: don't jump to conclusions about your friends because everything is not always as it appears.
VERDICT The story's singular narrative style and simple but expressive illustrations will make it a favorite during the month of February. Pair it with Laura Malone Elliott's A String of Hearts (HarperCollins, 2010).

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