Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Valentine's Day Selections

Olive, My Love stars Olive the dog (first seen in Olive, The Other Reindeer), a charming character created by Vivian Walsh and illustrated by J. Otto Seibold. When her canine pal Dexter drops an enormous heart on her doorstep, she (not realizing it's for her) goes to great lentgths to return it to him. Endearing characters, vibrant images, and clever writing make this story a heart-day favorite.

I Love You the Purplest by Barbara M. Joosse, Mary Whyte illustrator. This is a great story about a mother who helps her two sons understand that she loves them both equally, but for different reasons. She loves exuberant Max the reddest and quiet Julian the bluest. Together she loves them the purplest. This is a well-crafted story with such a universal lesson. As a side note, my friend Alicia read this book to her 2nd-graders and then, on the last day of school, sent them each home with a special bookmark. Each bookmark was unique, with a photograph of the child, his or her name, and a message from their teacher: "I love you the ____est because..." They loved it, of course. I mention this because I think it's a fantastic idea not only for teachers but for parents. You could do something like this on a Valentine for your child or make something like a bookmark that they would see often and keep forever.

Unlovable (by Dan Yaccarino) may seem like a funny choice for this particular list. I guess you'll just have to trust me! This book is about a little mutt named Alfred without any friends. (In fact, the cat tells him, "You've got the ugliest mug I've ever seen. No one could love you!" Ouch!) After countless insults from the neighborhood animals, Alfred really believes he's unlovable. Then one day a new family moves in next door...

Now I'll be frank with you. I think this book is cute and fun, but I don't find it particularly clever or outstanding. My students, however, ADORED it! They begged me to read it over and over and then would ask to read it during their Reading Workshop time. I'm not sure why they enjoyed it so much, but they did. So--read it to your kids. They'll love it!

Junie B. Jones and the Mushy Gushy Valentime. Does it get any more fun than exchanging valentines (or valentimes if you're Junie B.) with your classmates? In yet another greatie from Barbara Park, Junie B. receives a mystery valentine from a secret admirer and then sets out to discover who it is! Reminder: Kids love Junie B. Jones. Girl, boy, doesn't matter. They can't get enough! (Junie B. is perfect up until about 3rd grade. It is one of the best series for readers who are transitioning into chapter books.)

Love & Kisses, Eloise. I post this with some reservation. We Croppers are true-blue Eloise fans. And the real Eloise is written by Kay Thompson and illustrated by Hillary Knight. They are the ingenious creators of our favorite little girl who lives at the Plaza, and no one else can help us hear her distinctive voice so clearly, nor illustrates her and Nanny so perfectly. However, admittedly Marc Cheshire and Ted Enik do quite a nice job of portraying Eloise and Nanny as they celebrate Valentine's Day by eating extra boxes of chocolate, playing cupid at the hotel, and telling Mr. Salomone to be happy happy happy!

So, have a most wonderful Valentine's Day! I will attempt to read these favorites to Blaine (hopefully they will escape un-torn!) and I hope you will read them too. With red and pink and hearts and flowers and chocolate...I get pretty giddy in February. As Eloise would say, "Ooooooooooooo, I absolutely love Valentine's Day!"

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