18 Titles to Celebrate Valentine's Day, Holi, St. Patrick's Day, and More | Spring Holiday Roundup

Share these 18 titles with young readers to help them welcome Spring.


Baby’s First Holi. 14p. (Baby’s First Holidays). DK. Mar. 2022. Board $6.99. ISBN 9780744050028.
Baby-Toddler –This board book offers a first look at the Hindu festival of Holi. It opens with a picture of spring flowers and butterflies, accompanied by short text. On the second page, words beneath a happy baby read, “I’m ready for Holi, the festival of colors.” The book then shows different elements of the celebration, including powders in bright green, blue, pink, yellow, and orange; a water blaster for colored water; and flower petals. There are also cards, gifts, music, and delicious servings of lentil fritters and saffron milk. Time with family makes the festivities extra special: “It’s fun to eat and celebrate together.” Baby’s First Holi is well-organized and will keep small children’s attention. Photographs are colorful and work well with the one or two sentences per page. Although there are many more details about the holiday than are covered, this book provides the perfect age-appropriate introduction for young children. VERDICT A recommended purchase for public libraries and programs with babies and toddlers.–Robin Sofge

Burton, Jeffrey. Five Little Leprechauns. illus. by Tommy Doyle. 14p. S. & S./Little Simon. Jan. 2022. Board $6.99. ISBN 9781665910835.
Toddler-PreS –A playful and festive board book twist on the classic nursery rhyme “Five Little Monkeys,” just in time for St. Patrick’s Day. In this rhythmic romp, impish leprechauns play a mischievous game of hide and seek. They hide from Mama in the glen, in the clover, in a rainbow, and elsewhere, inevitably incurring bumps and bruises one after another. Mama repeatedly calls the doctor, who chastises them in the old familiar way: “No more leprechauns hiding in the…!” Finally, only one lonely little leprechaun is left, with a pot of gold and nobody to share it with. All is well, however, when the doctor insists that Mama reunite the leprechauns so that they may hide their treasure together. It’s unclear how the game of hide and seek ended in the discovery of a pot of gold; or if, perhaps, that was the objective all along. All five little leprechauns present as white with orange hair, and at least one is cued female. Colorful pages burst with greens and golds, and the little leprechauns’ cartoonish features are joyous and lively. The familiar rhyming cadence of the original nursery rhyme persists throughout, though it is somewhat clunky in places. VERDICT Little ones and their grown ups will delight in chanting this fun-filled twist on the classic nursery rhyme together long after the holiday festivities have ended.–Allison Staley

Burton, Jeffrey. My Heart Grows. illus. by Joanne Liu. 18p. S. & S./Little Simon. Dec. 2021. Board $8.99. ISBN 9781665900119.
PreS –At the beginning of this story, a mother explains to her child that her heart began to grow when the child entered her life. A diverse mix of families, including moms and kids, dads and kids, grandma and grandchild, and siblings with a range of skin tones continues this narrative, increasing the size of their own hearts after positive and negative experiences occur. As the characters’ hearts grow, they become interconnected, creating a tapestry of love shared among the many members of a dynamic community. This charming board book supports the message that love is an ever-expanding emotion that is enhanced in various ways throughout one’s life. Love is represented by the red outline of a heart that increases in size on each subsequent page and links the images together. Chunky, childlike illustrations depict families interacting with one another in several ways, including intergenerational relationships alongside more traditional parent-child representations. Visible paint strokes and pen lines give the illustrations a textured appearance, bringing out the rich hues through an accessible presentation. The text itself follows a loose, rhyming meter as parents reinforce the fact that their love grows through each of the interactions they have with their children. Supportive and encouraging, this book helps young children gain an understanding that their individuality is exactly what endears others to them. VERDICT A heartwarming story for caregivers to share with their children as a means of reinforcing the depth of their affections.–Mary Lanni

Celebrate Love Day! adapted by Alexandra Cassel Schwartz. illus. by Jason Fruchter. 16p. (Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood). S. & S./Simon Spotlight. Dec. 2021. pap. $6.99. ISBN 9781534495944.
PreS-Gr 1 –Daniel Tiger and his friends from Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood are celebrating Love Day. Daniel begins by telling each of his family members he loves them. His baby sister Margaret cannot say “I love you” with words yet, so she gives a big hug to share her love. Afterwards, Daniel makes cards to share with his friends at school. He distributes the cards among his friends, and they all share their love in different ways. But Daniel has received a mystery card in his cubby, and none of his friends nor his teacher knows where it came from. The story ends with a surprise Love Day visitor: the giver of the mystery card. This book might run a little long for the target audience, but fans of the show will not be dissuaded. Illustrations are the professional quality readers will expect from PBS; they follow the story closely, making readers feel like they are watching an episode of the show. Children who are not able to read all the words will still be able to follow the story through the images. VERDICT This recommended title will circulate well with young children and fans of the animated show.–Christina Salazar

Danneberg, Julie. Valentine’s Day Jitters. illus. by Judy Love. 32p. (Jitters). Charlesbridge. Dec. 2021. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781623541583.
K-Gr 2 –School teacher Mrs. Hartwell is a bit scatterbrained. She’s trying to plan a Valentine’s Day party for her class, but for once she’d love it to go smoothly instead of ending up as one of her usual disasters. After soliciting suggestions for relevant activities from her students, she prepares for the day. Due to the usual chaos and her overall messiness, the party gets a bit out of control, and the cake reveal is a bust. However, Mrs. Hartwell cannot be sad for too long, as her loving students clean up, salvage the cake, and make a huge Valentine for her, listing all the reasons she is such a wonderful teacher. Love’s illustrations lend a lot to the story, portraying a diverse cast of exuberant students. Pandemonium is always on display, but it is good-natured; this entry in the “Jitters” series reassures that good intentions are always rewarded, and tells a Valentine’s story that is not overly treacly. VERDICT School stories about Valentine’s Day can be hard to find; while not outstanding, this book fills a need.–Allison Gray

Keller, Joy. Valenslime. illus. by Ashley Belote. 40p. Feiwel & Friends. Dec. 2021. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781250799777.
K-Gr 2 –Victoria, an exuberant Black girl who loves to experiment with slime, calls herself a “slime scientist.” She and her friend, Goop, a giant slime blob, love to read science stories together. As Victoria makes Valentine’s cards for her school friends, readers learn through detailed illustrations and text that Goop wants another friend. Can Victoria experiment and make a friend for Goop? Keller takes readers on a hysterical rollercoaster ride of action while Victoria tinkers with different recipes of slime. She records all her observations, like a true scientist. Finally, Victoria and her dog Igor realize they’ve made many friends for Goop. This vibrant book is filled with eye-catching illustrations that will leave children yearning for more. Using a mix of bright colors and a variety of digitally created art, Belote taps into every child’s imagination. The author and illustrator also blend in Victoria’s handwriting all over the walls with her scientific observations. Keller uses developmentally appropriate text that early readers know, combined with multisyllabic adjectives like “splattered and sparkled” to make for a joyful reading experience. Classic Frankenstein hints dropped in the book make this a fun read for all ages. Back matter includes some of Victoria’s favorite slime recipes, so readers can make their own valenslimes. VERDICT A must for early childhood librarians, teachers, parents, and readers.– Kelly Richards

Lo, Richard. Chinese Kite Festival. illus. by Richard Lo. 40p. Holiday House. Dec. 2021. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780823447640.
PreS-Gr 1 –Fourteen animal kites, depicted in lush watercolors, soar through the pages of this gorgeous book aimed at the youngest picture book readers. Simple text accompanies each kite, such as “a fish leaps into the blue sky” or “a crab moves sideways beneath the clouds.” The text, in English and Simplified Chinese characters, is black, with the animal name a different color in both English and Chinese. The real standout is Lo’s stunning paintings, which depict each kite in a riot of colors against a sky accented with swirls and squiggles, while the other kites fly in the distance. Back matter gives a brief sentence about the role of each animal in Chinese culture. A fitting companion to Lo’s Chinese New Year Colors. VERDICT Vibrant and striking images and a simple but engaging text make this one a strong story time choice for the youngest audiences, with opportunities for further conversations and explorations.–Jennifer Rothschild

McGinty, Alice B. Feasts and Festivals Around the World: From Lunar New Year to Christmas. illus. by Tomoko Suzuki. 40p. little bee. Feb. 2022. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781499812176.
PreS-Gr 3 –Across the span of a year’s four seasons, readers learn about how 12 different countries observe a traditional holiday. Each holiday is described as a way to give thanks, honor loved ones, and come together as a community. Have you ever done the Small Frog Dance to celebrate summer’s longest day? The Swedes do! Or perhaps there is one day in the year when you are allowed to splash your grandparents with cold water, as part of a celebration called Songkran, a Buddhist water festival meant to provide some relief during the hottest part of the year. The pages are laid out in spreads, with a short rhyming introduction to the festival on the left page. On the right page, in tiny unattractive font, is a more detailed and interesting description of the ways in which the people of each country celebrate. Across the two-page span is a colorful array of the artifacts, people, and foods one would expect to see in that country during their holiday season. The author conveys just enough information to give kids a good sense of how the holiday is celebrated. The last two pages include a map of the world with each country’s location identified, along with their flag and a drawing of the food most closely associated with their festival. This introductory book is meant for young readers, but the ­readability of the text is complex enough that it will take a more experienced reader to decode the descriptions. A table of contents or index would have been helpful. VERDICT For any collection in need of more books on international celebrations, this will suffice; but without a table of contents or index, students conducting research projects on specific countries may overlook this one.–Maggie Chase

Mayer, Pamela. Peek-A-Boo Passover. illus. by Viviana Garofoli. 20p. Kar-Ben. Feb. 2022. Board $7.99. ISBN 9781728424316.
PreS –Peek-a-boo! A young white child and his kitty cat identify the matzah, candles, seder plate, Elijah’s cup, pillow, Haggadah, and other holiday items as his family celebrates the Jewish festival of Passover. The colorful, cute, and expressive illustrations depict a contemporary family with the men and boys wearing kippot. The simple text and repetitive refrain, “Peek-a-boo! I see. . .” will engage young children already familiar with the holiday. No explanations are provided; however, this is a welcome addition to holiday collections. VERDICT Shelve this alongside Freidele Galya ­Soban Biniashvili’s I Love Matzah, Tracy Newman’s Passover Is Coming!, and Sylvia A. Rouss’s Sammy Spider’s Passover Shapes.–Rachel Kamin

Mazique, Brittany. Delphine Denise and the Mardi Gras Prize. illus. by Sawyer Cloud. 32p. Albert Whitman. Jan. 2022. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780807515488.
K-Gr 3 –Mardi Gras, the biggest celebration of the year, is Delphine Denise’s favorite New Orleans holiday. Delphine, who is Black, and her three best friends always ride their bikes in the parade. This year, Delphine wants to win the grand prize crown, and that requires building a float. Delphine’s friends help her decorate a wagon, but decide they would rather ride their bikes in the parade. As the parade marches through Jackson Square, Delphine’s float falls apart with a loud clatter. Her friends offer to help, but she shrugs them off. The parade goes on without her. After the parade, the diverse friend group reconciles with a homemade king cake and crown. Colorful illustrations feature the traditional colors of Mardi Gras, which add a festive spirit to the story. The narrative doesn’t fully explain the background of events; however, the back matter includes information on Mardi Gras and New Orleans words and phrases included in the text. VERDICT Purchase where friendship stories or picture books on Mardi Gras or carnival celebrations are needed. Rita Christensen

Mumford, Martha. Five Little Easter Bunnies. illus. by Sarah Jennings. 24p. (Bunny Adventures). Bloomsbury. Dec. 2021. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781547607341.
PreS-Gr 1 –Spring has sprung in this ­delightful adventure that brings five little Easter bunnies through fields of animals, over a river, and through a beautiful carnival. This interactive lift-the-flap book allows for young children to truly engage in the story by assisting the bunnies as they look for eggs, prizes, and even a frog. Each bunny finds an egg in a unique way, such as by looking under leaves, playing a carnival game, or investigating a tree swing. The book ends with the bunnies gathering to eat their chocolate treats. Inspired by the popular tale and song that many children know and love, “Five Green and Speckled Frogs,” this rhyming picture book features colorful, hand-drawn illustrations that bring the five bunnies to life in a realistic way. The interactive nature and simple story line will appeal to young readers. VERDICT Recommended as a general purchase for public library holiday collections.–Kristen Todd-Wurm

Soundar, Chitra. Holi Hai! illus. by Darshika Varma. 32p. Albert Whitman. Jan. 2022. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780807533574.
K-Gr 3 –The day before Holi, everyone in Gauri’s family works to make their holiday colors from natural sources. Gauri is upset when the color she picks from the bowl isn’t her favorite. When she sulks, her grandfather tells the legend of how Prahlada defeated the evil of anger with his love. Gauri relinquishes her anger and celebrates. Brilliant pink, jade, purple, green, red, and yellow saturate every page. Just as intense as the colors depicted, the emotions featured—love, anger, forgiveness, joy—vividly shine. Back matter explains the Hindu festival, words that may be unfamiliar to some readers, and recipes to make colored water (not powder). ­VERDICT Shelve this vibrant book alongside Kabir Sehgal and Surishtha Sehgal’s Festival of Colors or Rina Singh’s Holi Colors.–Patricia D. Lothrop

Spiro, Ruth. Baby Loves Lunar Phases on Chinese New Year! Dec. 2021. ISBN 9781623543068.
––––. Baby Loves Photosynthesis on St. Patrick’s Day! Jan. 2022. ISBN 9781623543075.
ea vol: illus. by Irene Chan. 20p. (Baby Loves Science). Charlesbridge. Board. $8.99.
PreS-Gr 2 –Both board books introduce a holiday with short descriptive sentences, and then segue into a related science concept prompted by the text—the lunar calendar for Chinese New Year and clovers for St. Patrick’s Day. Each title concludes with more about the holiday and the caveat that not all celebrate it. The description of the lunar month in Lunar Phases, supported by illustrations of a smiling moon, makes the science accessible and capably ties into the narrative of the holiday: “Chinese New Year begins on a new moon. It’s the start of the lunar year!” The science in Photosynthesis strains to tie into the narrative by asking “What makes clover and other plants grow?” The narrative bogs down with the scientific concept and advanced vocabulary, such as chloroplasts, chlorophyll, stomata; though the illustrations do an admirable job using arrows, lines, and simple shapes to depict the inside of a cell and how light interacts with it. The return to the holiday description afterward is an abrupt shift in the narrative. While babies may be the intended audience for this series, the scientific concepts and holiday descriptions will be more useful as simple introductions for older children. Babies will enjoy the bright, uncluttered illustrations and hearing the rich language, though comprehension will be a challenge for those under three. VERDICT Simple sentences with advanced vocabulary packaged in a board book format succinctly ­explain holidays and scientific concepts with ­uneven success.–Ramarie Beaver

Stein, Joel Edward. Raquela’s Seder. illus. by Sara Ugolotti. 32p. Kar-Ben. Feb. 2022. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781728424293; pap. $7.99. ISBN 9781728427966.
K-Gr 3 –Raquela and her family must practice their Jewish faith in secret under the reign of King Ferdinand II and Queen Isabella of Spain. On Friday evenings, for instance, the family, all of whom have brown skin and dark hair, retreats to the privacy of their cellar to light candles and observe Shabbat. Raquela’s papa is an accomplished fisherman who describes the secret to his success to his daughter: one has to be smarter than a fish, and the best way to do that is to think like one. Raquela longs to share a Passover seder with her parents, which gives her papa an idea. After baking matzah and gathering the necessary supplies, the family sails out to papa’s secret fishing spot at sundown, where he explains the symbolism of the foods and the history of Passover. Stein’s text is both accessible and engaging for young readers, expertly weaving the distinct historical time periods together with simple, gentle language. Ugolotti’s colorful illustrations delicately capture the fear and optimism experienced by the Jewish people leaving Egypt for freedom during the first Passover, as well as Raquela and her family practicing their faith in secret, generations later. Back matter includes a historical note on the Spanish Inquisition and further information about Passover. VERDICT Thoughtful and tender, this beautiful story of hope is a valuable addition to all collections.–Olivia Gorecke

Trigiani, Adriana. The House of Love. illus. by Amy June Bates. 40p. Viking. Dec. 2021. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780593203316.
K-Gr 3 –It’s February 14th, Mia Valentina’s favorite day. She and her mama spend it getting ready for a Valentine’s Day dinner with their large family. Mia wants everything to be just right. As she lovingly works to bring beauty to one specific room, Mia rips down the faded brown wallpaper to discover that “A pretty wallpaper with hundreds of roses blooming inside a white trellis had been hidden under that dull brown wallpaper all along. It’s an inside garden!” The joyous holiday spirit of Mia Valentina and her mother is present on each page as they decorate the house. “Top to bottom they went, up the stairs, through the rooms, and down the banister. Every room was bedazzled! Every corner had a Cupid! Every door, a garland.” Careful attention to the details and rituals of holiday decorating is captured in vintage red and pink hues traditionally associated with Valentine’s Day. The palette lacks a brilliance often seen in contemporary picture books, but the illustrations are textured and thoughtfully float the story along. VERDICT A sweet read for anyone who appreciates simple expressions of joy and the tenderness of a child’s holiday cheer.– Maegen Rose

Wheeler, Lisa. Dino-Easter. illus. by Barry Gott. 32p. (Dino-Holidays). ­Carolrhoda. Feb. 2022. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781728419206.
K-Gr 3 –Dino-Easter is here! In this latest “Dino-Holidays” series book, the dinosaurs paint and hide eggs, sample chocolate treats, get new outfits, and attend a Dino-Easter parade. At every turn, Raptor wants to eat eggs, but is chided when he does so. When the festivities conclude for the day, he is given the go-ahead; only to eat his way to a sore tummy. Bright illustrations perfectly capture the festive energy of the holiday and of this story. Different kinds of dinosaurs, from triceratops to stegosaurus, are included. The rhyming text is filled with humor: one illustration shows a T. rex looking frustrated as he sits at a table with other dinos painting eggs. Movement lines around his arms indicate that he is trying to participate, but his arms are too short. The text reads, “T. rex struggles with the task/ He’d get some help if he’d just ask.” The end of the book has the dinos eating their chocolate after the egg hunt and dreaming of Valentine’s Day—a seemingly random jump, as Easter usually falls after Valentine’s Day, and there are other holidays to celebrate before Valentine’s Day comes around again. Dino-Easter is a fun, colorful look at dinosaurs enjoying popular Easter activities. VERDICT Recommended where dinosaur stories are popular or where the other books in the series circulate well.–Florence Simmons

Wild, Charlotte Sullivan. Love, Violet. illus. by Charlene Chua. 40p. Farrar. Jan. 2022. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780374313722.
PreS-Gr 2 –In this sensitive picture book about first friendship and first crushes, Violet, who has pale skin and red hair, daydreams about taking her friend Mira, who has light brown skin and curly hair, on heroic adventures. “As far as Violet was concerned, only one person in her class raced like the wind. Only one had a leaping laugh. Only one made Violet’s heart skip.” But every time Violet tries to tell Mira how she feels, she goes shy. As Valentine’s Day approaches, Violet decides that a handmade card is the perfect way to show Mira just how special she is. A soothing color palette enhances the story’s quiet and lighthearted tone, and transparent watercolor washes on textured paper add light and warmth to wintry scenes. Children will notice Mira’s baffled expressions in the background as Violet frets, offering opportunities for conversation around social-emotional learning. Cheerful schoolmates are drawn with varying shades of skin and hair types. Mira’s warm response when Violet finally delivers her valentine is touching, and sends a reassuring message about being true to one’s feelings. While the girls’ relationship is not explicitly romantic, Violet’s daydreams (where, for example, she is wearing a knight’s outfit and laying treasure at Mira’s feet) and her skipping heart suggest that her feelings may grow into something more. VERDICT This book fills an important need for non-heteronormative representation in picture book collections and will sit alongside books like Thomas Scotto’sJerome by Heart. Recommended for holiday collections.–Amy Fellows

Young, Amy. A Unicorn Named Sparkle and the Perfect Valentine. illus. by Amy Young. 40p. (Unicorn Named Sparkle: Bk. 5). Farrar. Dec. 2021. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780374314224.
PreS-Gr 2 –Lucy and Sparkle are preparing for a Valentine’s party. While Lucy is busy making valentines that will tell each of her friends at the party what she loves about them, Sparkle sneaks off with art supplies to make his own card for Lucy. But the beautiful card he imagines is a lot harder for a unicorn to execute. He painstakingly cuts out a heart with his horn, makes a hoof mark for each of the things he loves about Lucy, and dips his horn into paint to add a “squiggly line” for a poem. ­Sparkle is pleased with his card, until he sees the beautiful ones on display at the party. Teary-eyed, Sparkle tosses his in the trash. But Lucy finds it, declares it “perfect,” and shares the card she has made for Sparkle as well. Sparkle transitions from bowed dejection to recognition that he is loved as he and Lucy look into each other’s eyes and eventually share a hug. The watercolor-and-ink cartoon illustrations delightfully depict brown-skinned Lucy, with her spiraling black curls, and her goatlike companion. Readers whose skills do not yet meet their expectations will resonate with Sparkle’s experience. VERDICT The message that one need not be perfect to be loved is an excellent one to share during Valentine’s Day story hours.– Marianne Saccardi

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