It is believed Valentine’s Day has been celebrated since the 1400’s; early records of Valentine’s Day say that birds chose their mates on February 14. However it started, today it is widely celebrated by all ages.

Web links to additional information and activities about Valentine’s Day follow these reviews.

Contributor: Peg Glisson


Duck & Goose: Goose Needs a Hug

Tad Hills

They’re back! It is Tad Hills, the poultry odd couple, and their feathered friends again! Goose is feeling sad but he knows what he needs to cheer up. But, before he can tell his friends what he needs, they begin to suggest all sorts of cheering up fun. How about playing hide and seek or tag? Handstands? Splashing in puddles? Singing a happy song? Goose finally says he needs a big hug. Well, why didn’t you just say so, Goose? A book about love and the importance of hugging. It does not have to be a special day, person, or event. This is a board book for every day, all young children and any event. The book is comprised of nine two-page spreads of colorful, simple illustrations and a word count of seventy-four with some repetitive text. The author, also well-known as an illustrator has written several other “Duck and Goose” books including two New York Times bestselling picture books, Duck, Duck, Goose and Duck and Goose. Find Duck and Goose finger puppets at Have you had or given a hug today? 2013, Schwartz & Wade Books/Random House Children’s Books, Ages 2 to 5, $6.99.

REVIEWER: Suzanne Javid (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 9780307982933

Foxy in Love

Emma Dodd

In this sequel to Foxy, curly-haired Emily wants to draw what she loves best of all on her valentine, but can’t decide what that is. Her magical companion Foxy offers inspiration: by waving his tail, he makes some of her favorite objects appear, though he doesn’t always get it quite right (“Those are raccoons, not balloons!”). When Foxy points out that Valentine’s Day is about “who” not “what” you love, Emily knows right away who should be the centerpiece of her creation. Dodd tempers the earnest message with oodles of eye candy and abundant silliness in her playfully unkempt digital illustrations. 2013, Harper/HarperCollins, Ages 4-8, $17.99.

REVIEWER: Publishers Weekly (Publishers Weekly).

ISBN: 9780062014221

Huggy Kissy

Leslie Patricelli

Bright colors splash across the pages of this homage to affection. Word pairs as a baby asks for attention progress to sentences that describe the kinds of love baby receives and gives to others. The text is paired with depictions of numerous kinds of hugs and kisses. Parents, grandparents, friends, pets, toys, and extended family are recipients and givers as baby experiences lavish expressions of love through hugs and kisses. Different kinds of love are shown by people and pets in baby’s world. Even objects important to baby receive demonstrations of affection. Textures of some hugs and kisses are described as baby revels from head to toe in the effervescent play. The final spread provides a pictorial glossary of the hugs and kisses this baby relishes. Exuberance and fun are assured for those who dare to open this book. A bright board book from popular author Leslie Patricelli, this is a fitting gift for Valentine’s Day or a fun read for sharing with a young loved one. 2012, Candlewick Press, Ages 0 to 3, $6.99.

REVIEWER: Emily Hearn (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 9780763632465

I Love You, Good Night: Lap Edition

John Buller and Susan Schade

Illustrated by Bernadette Pons

This oversized board book tells the sweet story of a mother mouse who expresses deep love for her child. Similes are used throughout the book to express how much the mother loves her baby-“I love you like I love blueberry pancakes; I love you like I love strawberry milkshakes!” The affection parents have for their children is conveyed with the use of comparisons to loving feelings and relationships. The simple text and rhyming scheme will be easy for little ones to follow along, and eventually memorize the phrases. The story is partnered with soft illustrations drawn in subtle tones. Each page shows the mother and child-and a little teddy bear-taking part in the scene in which the text describes. When the text reads, “I love you like boots love splashing it puddles,” the little mouse is shown jumping in a puddle with pure joy. The following page reads, “I love you like bears love kisses and cuddles,” with the little one snuggling a teddy bear-giving a chance for the reader to give kisses and cuddles as well! This is a great book to wind down with at night, to tuck little ones in with the assurance that they are loved. 2013, Little Simon/Simon & Schuster, Ages 1 to 4, $12.99.

REVIEWER: Jillian Kobelin (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 978-1442485396

Katie Woo Celebrates

Fran Manushkin

Katie Woo and her friends always have fun while at school and even when they are out of school. Katie has lots to celebrate. She has family, fun friends and happy holidays. Manushkin shares three lovely holiday tales early readers will adore. Valentine’s Day was cold and gray, but in school her teacher, Miss Winkle had a fun task for the class. All the students will print their name on a piece of paper and put it in the valentine box. Each student will draw a name and then write something nice about that person. Katie was so caught up in reading the candy hearts she forgot to add her name to the box. What will Katie Woo do? On the 4th of July, Katie has invited her friends over for a cook-out. It seems that there are a few problems. Pedro tripped and spilled his soda, JoJo’s dog ate the hot dog buns and when JoJo ate blueberries she felt sick. And it rained. Blue was Katie Woo, what will she do? It would be a happy Halloween for Katie and her pals. Katie planned to be a scary monster. At every house they visited no one was scared in spite of Katie’s efforts. On the way home Katie got spooked. What will cheer her up? Manushkin offers fun and simplistic early readers for kids who are just starting to read books with chapters. Recognizable words in short snappy sentences are a breeze for beginners. Colorful and lively illustrations show off diverse characters and the vicarious world of Katie Woo. 2013, Picture Window Book/Capstones, Ages 5 to 9, $4.95.

REVIEWER: Kristi Bernard (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 9781404881006

Love Disguised

Lisa Klein

Meet young Will Shakespeare before he was the playwright; when he was just a teenage boy looking to escape the messiness of a love triangle and launch his career as a budding young actor. Eager for an opportunity to leave his small town behind, Will volunteers to go to London in order to settle some debts for his father. Along the way he meets Meg-an orphan turned thief turned waitress, who is also trying to escape her past. When Will is robbed, however, Meg dresses up as her pretend twin brother “Mack” in order to help him find the thieves. Together Will and “Mack” establish a friendship that for Meg threatens to turn into something much more. In a story that would delight the Bard, himself, Lisa Klein spins a story of villains and love, mistaken identities and gender mix ups. This well-written, delightful twist on the story of who exactly Young Shakespeare was and how he arrived on the scene in London should definitely find its way into many high school classrooms. It is bound to intrigue and prompt a lively discussion and blur the lines between fact and fiction that young Shakespeareans will want to believe.
2013, Bloomsbury, Ages 12 up, $16.99.

REVIEWER: Jeanna Sciarrotta (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 9781599909684

Mouse and Mole, Secret Valentine

Wong Herbert Lee

In their seventh outing, Mouse and Mole are seriously in love, even if Mouse doesn’t know it yet. When Mouse receives a “secret valentine,” her head is so much in the clouds that she walks into a lamppost. And she’s so busy trying to determine the identity of her admirer that she doesn’t pay attention to the butterflies she feels whenever she’s with Mole. After a romantic dinner and a rendezvous befitting a rom-com, the two animals seal their love with a dance. Yee creates a punchy story arc over the story’s four chapters and charming pencil and gouache spot illustrations. This romp of an early reader acknowledges that a first crush can feel every bit as momentous as a more long-term love. 2013, Houghton Mifflin, Ages 6-9, $15.99.

REVIEWER: Publishers Weekly (Publishers Weekly).

ISBN: 9780547887197

Nancy Clancy, Secret Admirer

Jane O’Connor

Illustration by Robin Preiss Glasser

Will love conquer all?” is the theme of this story of Nancy Clancy and her best friend, Bree. After studying the human heart in science class, they decide to become matchmakers. They try to find out what makes people fall in love. But in their quest they discover it is hard to determine the answer. When they try to match up their two favorite high schoolers, they discover matchmaking it not all that easy. The thirteen chapters listed on the contents page define their endeavors from “Beating Hearts” in chapter 1 to “Teenagers in Love” in chapter 13. The book continues with the topics of families and friendship, which are also explored in other “Fancy Nancy” books. These are important concepts for young readers. Black-and-white drawings and familiar characters make it an easy reading text even though matchmaking may be a bit mature for the younger ages of the targeted audience. The book is part of the extensive collection of novels in the “Nancy Clancy Series.” 2013, Harper/HarperCollins,, $9.99. Ages 6 to 10.

REVIEWER: Annie Laura Smith (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 9780062082954

Paper Valentine

Brenna Yovanoff

Hannah is spending an unbearably hot summer as many suburban teenagers do: she is working part-time, watching her younger sister while her mom and stepdad are at work, hanging out with friends, and thinking about a particular enigmatic someone. All she wants is for life to stabilize after the slow death of her best friend, Lillian, six months ago, who starved from anorexia. It is challenging, however, with Lillian’s ghost haunting Hannah as she goes about her day and a serial killer on the loose preying on the city’s pubescent girls and leaving handcrafted Valentines near their dead bodies. This is the third contemporary, dark fantasy from speculative fiction author Yovanoff, who is establishing herself as an author of note in this genre. Her first book, The Replacement (Razorbill, 2012/Voya December 2010), was a New York Times best seller, and her novels feature mesmerizing cover art to attract readers’ attention. Although the second half of the book is less engrossing than the beginning, with its interesting premise and modern detail, it is a satisfying story that will appeal to those with a taste for the eerie and off-beat.

REVIEWER: Elaine Gass Hirsch (VOYA).

ISBN: 9781595145994

Penguin in Love

Salina Yoon

Penguin is back and this time he is looking for love. What does he spy with his telescope? A solitary mitten. Penguin decides to put his quest for love on hold and unravel the mystery of the mitten’s owner. Grandpa tells Penguin he wears hats, not mittens. Penguin’s friends are missing other things-a bead, a slipper, and the sun-but not a mitten. His friend Bootsy is knitting snout cozies for seals. So Penguin decides to knit too-a mate for the mitten. But when two lovebird puffin’s spot this they ask him if he is making cozies for their bills. It turns out the lost mitten is actually a lost bill cozy. The lovebird puffins decide to find Penguin his own perfect match. These clever birds steal both Penguin and Bootsy’s yarn. She and Penguin set off searching together for their yarn. The yarn trail (with twisted hearts in it) has them visiting friends and knitting as they go along. Yoon perfectly mixes full spreads, large framed drawings, and multiple small vignettes, to capture the movement of Penguin’s world and his journey to love. Her digital art uses thick, black outlines and bright colors against cool backgrounds. When the two penguins finally get together, after a long exciting journey, they declare that love was a big adventure. The cold-weather love story is a perfect read-aloud especially for Valentine’s Day. This is the third “Penguin” book. 2013, Walker Books/Bloomsbury, Ages 3 to 6, $14.99.

REVIEWER: Emily Griffin (Children’s Literature).

FORMAT: Picture Book

ISBN: 978-0-8027-3600-0

Star Wars: A Very Vader Valentine’s Day

Trey King

Illustrated by Katie Cook

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away it was Valentine’s Day! Celebrate this love filled holiday with your favorite Star Wars characters. The first half of this paperback book is filled with activities, jokes, comics, and other fun pages that will entertain. The back half includes thirty-six Valentines to punch out. Some of the best include “you R2 good to me!,” “Yoda one for me,” “I want to be the droid you’re looking for,” “our love will Endor,” and “there’s a bounty on your heart and I mean to collect.” Activities include a maze, a mad-libs style finish the story, how-to-draw instructions for Yoda and Darth Maul, and a word search. Short character descriptions show different best friends in the Star Wars universe–like Han Solo and Chewbacca. A brightly colored jokes page will have everyone laughing (“How does Queen Amidala congratulate herself? With a Padme on the back”) and four short comics add some story to this activity book. A festive and amusing book for Star Wars fans. 2013, Scholastic, Ages 3 up, $6.99.

REVIEWER: Emily Griffin (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 9780545515603

Tulip Loves Rex

Alyssa Satin Capucilli

Illustrated by Sarah Massini

Little Tulip loves to dance. “While the other babies were learning to crawl,” writes Capucilli (the Biscuit series), “Tulip was ready to spin.” At the park with her parents, Tulip finds a big, yellow dog with a tag that reads, “My name is REX I am not quite like other dogs.” Instead of playing fetch or obeying commands, Rex loves to dance, too. It’s a perfect match, and Tulip’s parents don’t put up one iota of resistance: “A rather large dog named Rex who loved to dance? They didn’t mind a bit!” This slip of a story, with its unnecessary lapses into lesson-imparting (“We all have something we love to do,” Tulip tells Rex. “We just have to discover what it is”) is greatly invigorated by Massini’s (Trixie Ten) buoyant portrayal of her irrepressibly terpsichorean heroine. Whether Tulip is dancing on her bed (her legs just so, her arms arched gracefully in the air) or twirling through a tulip-studded park with Rex (who has some impressive Baryshnikov-like moves himself), she is the very picture of unadulterated joy. 2013, Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins, Ages 4-8, $17.99.

REVIEWER: Publishers Weekly (Publishers Weekly).

ISBN: 9780062094131

Valentine Be Mine

Jacqueline Farmer

Once upon a time there were three religious figures named Valentine. One was a priest, another was a bishop, and the third was a missionary. All were martyred or killed on February 14 for their beliefs, and all were later declared saints. Saint Valentine’s Day gets its name from these three men. This is just one of many interesting facts found in the book regarding February 14th. Although most often associated with love, marriage, hearts and flowers, the holiday’s history may have originated from ancient Rome, and it was not always about romance. This book is beautifully illustrated with mixed media collage including photos, vintage clip-art, hand-drawn images, and acrylic paints. Twenty-eight double page spreads on large glossy paper contain a wealth of information about valentine traditions, symbols, and celebrations. Religious customs, poets, kings, hearts, and flowers are all part of the story. Large, sometime full-page, illustrations provide support to the reader as do many quotes by famous people scattered throughout the pages–on heart shapes, of course. Each two-page spread begins with a lead paragraph, printed in a bold, large-text font, which provides a sense of consistency for readers. Easy-to-follow craft instructions are included, as are jokes for those wishing to be a funny valentine. The last page contains “Did You Know?” facts, adding to this already comprehensive resource. This book is beautiful and informative, historical and practical and factual; it is also fun. An excellent addition to classroom and personal library, this is a “must” for school library collections. 2013, Charlesbridge Publishing Company, Ages 6 to 9, $17.95.

REVIEWER: Suzanne Javid (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 9781580893893

Valentine’s Day

Trudi Strain Trueit

Whether it is with a card, candy, or flowers, February 14th, or Valentine’s Day, is a holiday when people celebrate love and friendship. Read a brief history to learn about the Roman priest named Valentine and the background of this holiday. In addition, find out how the tradition of valentines (i.e. poems, cards, and notes) began. In another chapter, read how some people currently celebrate Valentine’s Day. After the main body of text, there is a set of directions on making Valentine’s Day cards. For further investigation, there is a list of some ideas for learning how other people celebrate Valentine’s Day. Color photographs and illustrations are located throughout the book. Children may need an introduction and support on using the informational text features (i.e. chapters, headings, captions, glossary, and index). The book lists content consultants and a reading consultant. This book is part of the “Rookie Read-About Holidays” series which include Groundhog Day, 100th Day of School, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and other holidays.
BIBLIO: 2014, Children’s Press/Scholastic Inc, Ages 6 to 8, $23.00.
REVIEWER: Carrie Hane Hung (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 9780531272077

Valentine’s Day is Cool (Pete the Cat)

James Dean

Appropriately enough, Pete’s latest includes some valentines for readers: a large foldout poster, a sheet of stickers, and 12 punch-out cards. In the accompanying story, Pete starts out as a skeptic: “Valentine’s Day is not cool,” he tells his friend Callie. She responds that it’s her favorite holiday, and Pete needs no more convincing than that-as soon as he gets home, he starts making homemade cards. By book’s end, Pete has distributed valentines throughout his community; he forgets about Callie, but she’s understanding: “Hanging out with you… that’s way better than any card.” Just like Pete skateboards his way through town, he slides through these minor Valentine’s Day dramas effortlessly. 2013, HarperCollins, Ages 4-8, $9.99.

REVIEWER: Publishers Weekly (Publishers Weekly).

ISBN: 9780761373957

The Very Fairy Princess

Julie Andrews & Emma Walton Hamilton ;

Illustrated by Christine Davenier.

For a sparkle-loving fairy princess like Andrews and Hamilton’s Gerry, it’s no surprise that Valentine’s Day is an extra-special occasion. Tiara, wings, and “all my heart-shaped accessories” are needed for her school party. However, in her haste to catch the bus, Gerry leaves with her father’s work folder instead of the one containing her valentines-a disappointment, yes (“Fairy princesses must maintain their composure, especially in public”), but one that turns into an improvisational opportunity. Fans of Gerry’s earlier books should find the heroine as vivacious as ever. Davenier blends carefree color swirls and accents with precise pencil lines, keeping the story from feeling cookie-cutter. 2013, Little, Brown, Ages 3-6, $16.99.

REVIEWER: Publishers Weekly (Publishers Weekly).

ISBN: 9780316185592

We Go Together! A Curious Selection of Affectionate Verse

Calef Brown

We Go Together! is comprised of eighteen poems that celebrate all the joys of friendship. Friends “go together like fingers and thumbs.” Friends are like kiwis (both the bird and the fruit). A friend will run to your doorstep when given a call. Best friends are forever. With a friend, every day is like a birthday cake and the mirth they bring. Scallywags play tricks together. A roller buddy teaches a friend to skate. Sometimes friends drink tea together; other times they laugh and chortle. A close friend will complete another’s sentences and sometimes their paragraphs. Friends bring gifts for you from their trips. They stick by each other when there’s a tangle. The smile of a friend lights up every situation. The friendship-based poetry in this book is fun to read and the quirky illustrations add unexpected humor. Unusual situations are shown, such as an alligator and a bird riding a bicycle, a dog wearing clothes and a hat carrying a flower to a doorstep, a kiwi bird with legs and small feet floating in the air, and alien-looking beings engaged in human activities. A fun book for all ages. 2013, Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, Ages 7 to 10, $9.99.

REVIEWER: Phyllis Kennemer, Ph.D. (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 9780547721286

When a Dad Says “I Love You”

Douglas Wood

Illustrated by Jennifer A. Bell

Dads are not ordinary, so dads in every imaginable form–bear, alligator, frog, duck; even elephant, pig, or giraffe–express their love in non-ordinary ways. They may produce breakfast pancakes from scratch, or help their child learn to keep their balance on a two-wheel bike. They might read your favorite story over and over and over again, or answer all your “why” questions. The bottom line, shown by all these animal dads, is the implication that human dads might be equally as inarticulate in their expressions of love. (Isn’t it always Mom who sends kids off with, “Be good, honey, I love, you!”) What the heck, who needs sloppy words? Just keep bringing on more pancakes, please! Jennifer Bell illustrates greeting cards as well as children’s books, so her digitally finished pencil sketches are full of the very schmaltzy warmth that guys may not have, but warm the cockles of little ones’ hearts. The end result will make for excellent bedtime reading. 2013, Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, Ages 3 to 6, $16.99.

REVIEWER: Kathleen Karr (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 9780689875328

Updated 02/01/14

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