Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day

   There's never a wrong time to let someone know you care for them, but in February we make a concerted effort to "share the love!" Valentine's Day has been celebrated around the world for centuries.

   What started as a Christian feast day has morphed into candy, roses, and cards. Whether it's poetry, card-making, a simple story, or a longer read for older children, you're bound to find something you like in this list of books!

Information and activities about Valentine's Day can be found online at:

Contributor: Peg Glisson


Cards, Wrap, and Tags
Anna Claybourne

Greeting cards are a big business, but most people appreciate a simple, handmade card, especially when it is made by a young relative or friend. Not only will readers learn how to make cards, but wrapping paper, and gift embellishments as well. From a simple card to a dangling cut out card, and even a pop-up card, readers will have no shortage of inspiration. This book even directs readers to make cards featuring funny fruit. The wrapping paper tips are pretty basic, simply splatter paint, or use rubber stamps, but the gift tags are quite popular right now and will surely be appreciated. Some libraries may find inspiration in this book for a card making library program for tweens around Christmas or Valentine's Day. An index, glossary, and equipment tips are included so crafters can easily find materials. This book will appeal to libraries that need more modern tween crafting books. 2012, Smart Apple Media/Black Rabbit Books, Ages 10 to 14, $28.50. Reviewer: Tiffany Erickson (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 9781599206967

I Haiku You
Betsy Snyder

What a fun way to celebrate a child's identification of favorite things! Not only would Julie Andrews approve, but such ideas in a book open up a new avenue for sharing with children their feelings and preferences for activities, objects and those intangible moments they value the most. Japanese-type drawings with haiku poetic images fill the pages with many red hearts, suggesting this book as a Valentine's Day gift for younger readers. Lines like "You be my jelly, I'll be your peanut butter-let's stick together!" would probably elicit a lot of laughter from listeners. Many children's poetry books highlight only humor, or concentrate on one subject (e.g., nature, animals). Snyder's emphasis is on simple valued experiences which children universally will recognize and recall with pleasure. Jiggling words fill the pages that depict happy children sharing the joys of childhood. Perhaps the author might have added a brief description of what a haiku is, and included an example of its poetic structure. This could encourage readers and listeners to examine the form further and understand how it is represented in the short poems of this text. Snyder has won numerous awards for her books and has written a Bank Street Best Children's Book. She is also a greeting card designer and enjoys illustrating her own work. The book is worth sharing with children who have a natural feel for rhythm and word play and will be delighted with the warm and playful drawings. 2012, Random House, Ages 4 to 6, $9.95. Reviewer: Enid Portnoy (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 9780375867507

I Love You
Carolyn Jayne Church

On the cover is a drawing of a toddler and a teddy bear looking out at the reader. If that is not enough to gain the attention of a baby, there is a small mirror, too. Simple sentences point out eyes, nose, hands, toes; arms and belly, too, and conclude with "But most of all, I love you!" This soft cloth book with its slightly padded pages is just right for an infant. As the child gets older, the caregiver can use this to create an interactive game with the child, pointing to the child's body parts and finishing with a hug. The illustrations on each page emphasize the body part on a curly-haired, dots-for-eyes child. Very young children can grasp this lightweight cloth book. It can be cleaned by wiping with a damp cloth. Just right for cuddle time with the youngest of listeners. 2012, Cartwheel Books/Scholastic, Ages 0 to 3, $12.99. Reviewer: Sharon Salluzzo (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 9780545461405

A Kiss Like This
Mary Murphy

Murphy has crafted another fun and reassuring book for toddlers. Creatures of all shapes and sizes are paired, parent with child, as kisses are described. There are gentle and tall giraffe kisses, quick and small mouse kisses, fizzy and bubbly fish kisses, fuzzy, buzzy bee kisses, long toot-tooty elephant kisses, and tu-wit and tu-wooty owl kisses! Flip the half flap to see the actual kiss " this!" Everybody's kissing at the end as the final words call for "Your kiss!" Simple and predictable text is hand-lettered; the text is very brief, so just right for the intended audience. The lilting, somewhat rhyming text begs to be read aloud. Certainly discussions about the animal's size, behavior, and habitat would extend the reading. The book could also be used with young writers in a lesson on "describing words." Backgrounds are white, not black as in Murphy's I Kissed the Baby, with the illustrations composed from digital art, ink, and watercolors. Colors are a mix of vividly bright and softer pastel hues, with a thick line outlining the animals. There are red and pink hearts galore, making this a perfect choice for Valentine's Day. It would also work extremely well as a lap-sit book or in a storytime. Youngsters will have fun making the sounds and saying the "like this!" refrain-in between kisses, of course. 2012, Candlewick, Ages 1 to 4, $12.99. Reviewer: Peg Glisson (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 9780763661823

The One and Only Willa Bean
Cecilia Galante
Illustrated by Kristi Valiant

Willa Bean Skylight is upset that her flying friend is not unique. Flying friends are animals from Earth that help the cupids. Willa Bean is a cupid who attends Cupid Academy in Nimbus and Snooze, a pygmy owl, is her flying friend. Willa and her classmates who also are cupids, are preparing for Noble Nimbus Day; they are practicing their school song and a dance. The students' flying friends are going to be included in the dance part of the performance. Lucy is a new student and her flying friend is Mr. Wingston, a long-eared owl. Willa Bean becomes envious of Lucy's owl and she feels that Mr. Wingston overshadows Snooze, especially when Mr. Wingston receives the part of carrying the school flag at the end of the dance. How will Willa Bean sort out her feelings? Before the start of this adventure, there is a brief overview that introduces Willa Bean's cupid world in Nimbus. This chapter book has some illustrations and more text. The publisher places the reading level at 2.7. Fans of the "Little Wings" series will probably enjoy this book which is the fourth one in the series. 2012, Random House Children's Books, Ages 7 to 9, $4.99. Reviewer: Carrie Hane Hung (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 9780375969508

The Perfect Hug
Joanna Walsh
Illustrated by Judi Abbot

Everybody loves a good hug. But what is it that makes the perfect hug? A little panda bear, which can be either a boy or girl, sets out in a Sherlock Holmes hat with magnifying glass in hand to find out. He (or she) searches high and low, considering a hug from a bug, a bear, a boa constrictor, and a jellyfish, to name a few. He even considers out-of-this-world hugs, and hugs from a tree full of monkeys. At last, he discovers the secret: "…a hug takes two. If you hug me, then I'll hug you!") and we see him hugging another panda. Young children will enjoy the brief text with just enough rhyme to provide a "catchy" reading. They will enjoy the variety of cartoon-style animals in colorful, soft tones depicted on land, sea, and out-of-this-world. Children just a bit older will delight in the rhyming and will grasp the humor and the wordplay. The large, clean illustrations make this suitable for storyhour. Read this for bedtime, Valentine's Day, or any day you just need to feel the joy of a perfect hug. 2012, Paula Wiseman Book/Simon & Schuster, Ages 3 to 7, $12.99. Reviewer: Sharon Salluzzo (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 9781442466067

Romeo Redeemed
Stacey Jay

The seemingly saintly Friar Lawrence is really an evil mercenary that has convinced Romeo to join the dark side through the sacrifice of his fair Juliet. Romeo, for the past hundred years or so, has been cursed to live in a rotting corpse committing heinous crimes and dirty deeds. As he slowly begins decomposing, he is given a chance to betray the mercenaries, thus helping the Ambassador of Light and redeeming himself. In order to take the Ambassador's vows and live in the light, he must have Ariel Dragland, a disheartened outcast, fall head over heels in love with him, thus swaying her from her own dark side. The sweet-talking Romeo from William Shakespeare's classic play emerges as he woos and wins Ariel's heart. The story isn't as simple as winning over Ariel, though. There are a number of twists and turns that occur, and the lines between the dark side and the light start to meld together until the reader is not really sure who is fighting for good. At first it is difficult to see what Jay has done in creating this alternate version of Romeo and Juliet, but readers are quickly drawn in to the events that unfold and the character of Jay's Romeo. He is still the lovesick Romeo from long ago, and it is hard not to get caught up in the sweetness. Due to the fact that the point of view switches between Romeo, Ariel, and Juliet, we are able to see the romance and pain develop through multiple perspectives. Overall, the novel is an engaging and an interesting twist to Shakespeare's original. 2012, Delacorte Press/Random House, Ages 14 up, $17.99. Reviewer: Sarah Raymond (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 9780385740180

Tweet Hearts
Susan Reagan

Two little yellow love birds flit and fly as they send a series of hearts to one another. They count from ten to one in rhymed couplet sentences. Brightly-colored backgrounds in blue, green, pink, or gold and clean and clear graphics will catch the eye of a toddler. Interesting adjectives describe the hearts (bubbly, playful, shy, etc.) and embellish the activities on each page. The pop-up heart on the last page, which reads "I love you," may be a bit fragile for library use. It does, however, provide a fun and simple "wow" factor for the toddler set. It would be a delightful little Valentine for a favorite toddler . 2012, Robin Corey Books/Random House, Ages 1 to 3, $5.99. Reviewer: Sharon Salluzzo (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 9780307931535

Who Needs Love?
Elise Primavera
Illustrated by Laura Park

Scarlett Starlett and Simon Greensnout are best friends, doing everything together. One day Simon finds a silver dollar, which he gives to Scarlett. The dollar is actually owned by an old and wise cypress tree, but it was stolen by the meanest, wickedest witch ever, who dropped it as she flew off. Scarlett treasures the dollar because her friend gave it to her. Everybody in Pokey Marsh is sure the two will grow up to marry and live happily ever after. But the two friends have other plans. Simon dreams of exploring the world, and Scarlett knows she can make it big as a singer. So they say "Who needs love?" and head their separate ways. On the way out of the marsh, Simon runs into the witch who demands to know if he has the silver dollar. He tells the witch that Scarlett has it. The witch is so angry she turns Simon into a donkey. Scarlett, having started on her way to stardom, runs into the witch who demands the silver dollar. Scarlett returns the silver dollar the witch, hardly noticing the donkey accompanying her. The longer they are apart, the more the two friends miss each other. Scarlett becomes famous, because when she sings all who listen fall in love. But Scarlett grows sadder and sadder. Simon, still a donkey, grows sadder as he lives stuck in the witch's house. The witch polishes the dollar so often she rubs all the silver off. In the end, Scarlett and Simon learn that love is what lasts forever and is more precious than wealth or fame. Children will enjoy the cadence of this sweet story, even if they don't quite understand the message. 2012, Robin Corey Books/Random House Children's Books/Random House, Ages 3 to 6, $16.99. Reviewer: Sarah Maury Swan (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 9780375855856

The Yuckiest, Stinkiest, Best Valentine Ever
Brenda A. Ferber
Illustrated by Tedd Arnold

Leon makes a very special valentine for his crush, Zoey Maloney, but the valentine has a mind and life of its own. The valentine tells Leon not to tell Zoey that he loves her. In a gingerbread man-like fashion, the valentine dashes out of the house with Leon running after it. During the chase, Leon and the valentine come across different groups of kids who share their opinions about Leon's declaration of love. The younger boys believe that love is yucky and the younger girls think it is sweet. As the valentine runs into older kids, the opinion's about love shift. The ending is interesting when the valentine runs into Zoey herself. The story has a comic strip-like format with cartoon cells. Most of the single cells fill a page. There are narration captions and speech bubbles. The pictures are brightly colored with bold outlines and readers may recognize Arnold's style of illustration from his popular "Fly Guy" series. Whether love is gross or divine, this story is has an amusing ending. 2012, Dial Books for Young Readers/Penguin Group, Ages 4 to 9, $16.99. Reviewer: Carrie Hane Hung (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 9780803735057

Updated 02/01/13

To stay up to date on new books on this topic, consider subscribing to The Children's Literature Comprehensive Database. For your free trial, click here.
If you're interested in reviewing children's and young adult books, then send a resume and writing sample to