You thought I forgot, didn’t you? Actually, we have been reading Valentine’s Day books, but I just plain old ran out of time to get a post up last week. I almost turned all our books back in, but I had a change of heart at the circulation desk and brought them all back home again, in hopes that I’d be able to write them up for Read Aloud Thursday this week. This week it seems like I’ve met myself coming and going, I have been so busy with work, homeschooling, and church activities. Nevertheless, here they are! You still have a few days to enjoy some holiday picks, so let’s get started, shall we?
Saint Valentine by Robert Sabuda (yes, the Robert Sabuda whose books I’ve raved about here , here, and here!) is actually a book that I purchased at a homeschool conference last year. I paid very little for it because it was marked as a damaged book due to some water stained pages. I forgot that we even had it in our collection until I read Alice’s review for last week’s Read Aloud Thursday. I dug it and read it first to myself to discern whether or not it would be appropriate for my young girls, and then we gave it a go the next day. Since our religious heritage (evangelical Christian, and about as “low church” as you can get) doesn’t include saints in the sense of the Catholic church (or its variants), reading about saints is always as educational for me as it is for my girls. This is a very gentle story of the man who became Saint Valentine and how he acquired this title. I’ve learned that there are several stories associated with Saint Valentine; the one recounted in this picture book is the one in which the little girl of the jailer has her vision restored when she receives a note from “her Valentine.” As is true of every Sabuda picture book we’ve read, the illustrations are the star attraction. While this one isn’t a pop-up book, the illustrations are unique in that they are all mosaics. I really like that. This book is a great addition to a holiday booklist.
I probably wouldn’t have picked up The Story of Valentine’s Day were it not written by Clyde Robert Bulla. Since we read (and the girls enjoyed–me, not so much) his Squanto: Friend of the Pilgrims, I was curious to read an informational title by him. Honestly, I was a little turned off by the illustrations to begin with–I would be much more likely to simply pass over this book because the illustrations look a little blah to me. It turns out that the text of the book is copyrighted 1965 and these particular illustrations (by Susan Estelle Kwas) are copyrighted 1999. I have not searched out an older copy of the book to see if the original illlustrations are any more noteworthy. In terms of the text, this book is a nice overview of the holiday. It includes both the roots of Valentine’s Day from the Roman holiday Lupercalia and the Christian basis from Saint Valentine’s exploits. What I like most about this book is that it highlights Valentine’s Day celebrations down through time and in different countries.
Honestly, when it comes to Valentine’s Day, I’m much more interested in a fun take than a romantic one, and that is most definitely true when it comes to kids’ books. The Best Valentine in the World by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat is a book that my girls have asked for over and over again, and it is quite funny. It is the story of Ferdinand Fox, who begins work on his valentine for Florette Fox on November 5. When Valentine’s Day rolls around, he is quite miffed that Florette (apparently) has a lackadaisacal attitude toward the holiday and has (apparently) forgotten all about it. Hmmph! Of course, this isn’t true at all, but how the little communication melt-down is resolved is giggle-inducing. I particularly like the illustrations in this story–Lilian Obligado chose to use non-traditional colors throughout in her purple and lime green color scheme. If my girls’ reactions are any indication, this one would be a hit among the young elementary contingent, so it gets a Highly Recommended from me.
I almost didn’t include The Valentine Party, written and illustrated by Pamela Bianco, but I like it a lot and so did the girls. It’s a vintage find, copyright 1954. It’s one of those books that’s perfect for children who have no trouble sitting for a long picture book but aren’t quite ready for a chapter book; it is twenty-five or so pages, and those pages have about five color illustrations scattered throughout. The story is one that would appeal to most small children, girls in particular. It’s the story of a little girl named Cathy who feels left out because everyone is going to a Valentine’s party except her. Cathy decides to take matters into her own hands and crash the party she thinks everyone else is invited to, with some unexpected results. I like that this story contains gentle suspense and ends in delight for everyone. The only thing I don’t like about the story are the illustrations–they are a little weird, but this might just be a case of my twenty-first century tastes finding the older artwork extremely dated. I don’t know how many of these little books are still lurking on library shelves, but if you see this one in a used bookstore, I think it would be worth a few bucks. (However, I don’t recommend paying $65 for it.)
I’ve saved the best for last, at least as far as my opinion is concerned. This may be one of those kids’ books that appeals mainly to adults, but so what? It can’t be all about them. Love Is. . . by Wendy Anderson Halperin is simply an adaptation of a portion of 1 Corinthian 13, accompanied by detailed illustrations. The illustrations are in frames, and there are many to a page. Each frame has a corresponding frame on the facing page, and the left-hand frame will show the “not love” way and the right-hand frame will show the way of love. For example, one frame shows an adult, with arm tautly outstretched and finger pointing, ordering a gaggle of small children to go somewhere. The corresponding frame shows the same woman happily working with the same children in the kitchen. (Ask me why I picked this example. Could it be because I relate?) This book offers plenty of material for dicussion and study. I’d like to have this one, if for no other reason than my own edification. Highly Recommended. (I’ve written about some of Wendy Anderson Halperin’s books before–here and here.)
These aren’t all the Valentine’s books we’ve enjoyed, of course. The girls have been toting around The Ballad of Valentine (which I reviewed here) and singing it (to the tune of “Clementine”), and Lulu has even volunteered to read it to Louise a number of times. Here are some other books I’ve reviewed at Hope Is the Word that are appropriate for Valentine’s Day:
Read Aloud Thursday–Valentine’s Day Edition, Take One
Ruby Valentine Saves the Day
The Heart Is Like a Zoo
Other Related Links:
Sherry’s big Valentine’s Day post at Semicolon
Wendy Anderson Halperin’s website
Clyde Robert Bulla obituary
Does your family have a favorite Valentine’s Day read-aloud? I’m all ears! Share your recommendations, as well as any Read Aloud Thursday links, in the comments. Don’t forget to come back tomorrow for a Read Aloud Thursday link roundup!