SHARED By: Katherine Grier, Librarian at York Avenue Preschool

Although for many people, it is just a bleak winter month to be endured; there is a lot to be celebrated in February. We had Groundhog Day and Mardi Gras. Black History Month and President’s Day. And of course, there is Valentine’s Day – the day of cards, hearts, flowers, love – AND CHOCOLATE! Take time out this February 14th to enjoy some of these love-themed books…Read More

Take time out this February 14th to enjoy one of the special love-themed books recommended below.

Froggy’s First Kiss by Jonathan London
I don’t know a single child between the ages of 3 and 6 who doesn’t love Froggy.  He’s goofy and silly and makes read-aloud story time joyful and fun. This installment of Froggy’s adventures is all about Froggy’s first love and the jumble of emotions that go along with it. It is the perfect Valentine’s Day book to share with boys and girls on the reading rug or at home. The plot flows like this: When the new girl in class showers him with gifts and attention, Froggy is ecstatic. He even makes her a special “I Love You” Valentine. But when she surprises him one day at lunch with a big kiss, he is embarrassed and realizes he prefers the chocolate kisses his mother gives him to the real ones. While this plot may not seem all that engaging, the trick to any Froggy book is to read it enthusiastically, using sounds effects and character voices. When Froggy reacts to the kiss, give it your best “Ewwwwwww”!  When the teacher yells for Froggy, try out your best old-teacher voice you can manage. And whenFroggy answers back “What” remember all those times you were interrupted as a kid and conjure up the voice you answered with. Books and Valentine’s Day are meant to be enjoyed, so let loose and ENJOY!

The Day It Rained Hearts‘ by Felicia Bond
This adorable book teaches the idea that hearts aren’t for keeping, but for sharing. The book’s author, Felicia Bond, who is perhaps best known for her work as the illustrator of Laura Numeroff’s If You Give a Mouse… series, wrote this book in 1983, but it is still as endearing a read as it was 30 years ago. The story is about a little girl named Cornelia Augusta who is walking along in a rainstorm.  However, this is not an ordinary rainstorm because it is raining hearts.  Catching lots of them in her hand and in her yellow raincoat, she notices that, like snowflakes, each one is different, so she decides to use some to make special Valentine’s Day cards for her four animal friends.  As the book proceeds, she creates unique cards for each friend taking care to personalize them (e.g., she makes one with a cotton ball for her friend rabbit because it looks like his tail).   Children will enjoy playing detective and trying to figure out which friend will receive each card Cornelia creates.  For added fun, some versions of the book contain a Valentine sticker page at the end to help your little ones get started on their own special Valentine cards.
Planted a Kiss‘Plant a Kiss’ by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Like the Felicia Bond book reviewed above, “Plant a Kiss” revolves around the theme of sharing love and bliss. With short rhyming text that is perfectly paired with simple, yet dazzingly magical watercolor illustrations, the book tells the story of a girl named Little Miss and what happens when she plants a kiss. At first, even thought she dutifully provides sun, water and attention to the kiss, it does not sprout. She waits and watches, patiently and not so patiently, until a sparkly object pokes up from the ground followed by a whole sparkly plant blossom. She is so excited she shouts for other children to “gather about”  so that she can share this amazing thing with them. They warn her not to share it, saying “Don’t you dare! It’s far too rare! It’ll go bare!” But she ignores them, putting tons of the blossoms into a big red bowl, distributing them far and wide, and truly appreciating that “…from one little kiss …  [comes] endless bliss!”  This book is so touching and loving, I guarantee you will want to read it over and over again, even after your children have gone to sleep!

‘The Very Fairy Princess Follows Her Heart’ by Julie Andrews and Emma Walton Hamilton
In this third book in the Very Fairy Princess series by Julie Andrews and her daughter, we find the heartwarming main character, Geraldine (a.k.a. Gerry) preparing to celebrate Valentine’s Day. She gets out her very best glitter and other art supplies to make cards for her friends at school, trying extra hard to think of ways to highlight each of their special qualities and inner sparkle. The next day when Gerry gets to school, she goes to get the cards she made and realizes she accidentally took a folder of Daddy’s work papers instead. She is hugely disappointed and really pouts. Luckily, with the help of her teacher, Gerry still is able to come up with a way to show her friends just how much they mean to her, even without her cards. She brilliantly acts out her valentines for them, telling them why they are special and it turns out to be a great day for everyone. This engaging story stays true to the lessons of the other Very Fairy Princess books, but is not overly repetitive.  It is worth adding to your own Princess’ book collection.

‘Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch’ by Eileen Spinelli
The main character in this picture book is Mr. Hatch, a man who lives alone and rarely talks to his neighbors, co-workers or fellow townspeople. He works all day, cooks and eats the same dinner every night, takes a shower and goes to bed. He lives a drab and solitary life that is made palpable from the book’s wonderful illustrations. But, all of this changes when the postman brings Mr. Hatch a huge, heart shaped box of chocolates along with a card that says, “Somebody loves you.”  Mr. Hatch is so happy he does a little dance. Because he thinks he might meet his secret admirer, Mr. Hatch puts on a colorful tie and some old aftershave. He takes the box of chocolates to work to share. He begins talking to others and helping them. He even bakes brownies and holds an impromptu picnic and harmonica concert for his neighbors. The more Mr. Hatch is friendly and kind to others, the more they reciprocate. Then the postman tells Mr. Hatch that the candy had been delivered to his house by mistake and that he doesn’t have a secret admirer. So, Mr. Hatch withdraws and returns to his old self again. The postman tells the neighbors what has happened. The neighbors get together and throw a big surprise party for Mr. Hatch, complete with candy, a new harmonica and a big sign that says, “Everybody loves Mr. Hatch.” —a perfect ending to a perfect story about the power of love, friendship, caring and acceptance.

Happy Valentine’s Day!