From the Unicorn Named Sparkle series , Vol. 2

A sweet and funny Valentine’s Day read.

On Valentine’s Day, Lucy gets ready to make valentines for the friends she loves.

Her unicorn, Sparkle, joins her, but Lucy tells him not to worry—after all, as she says, “No one expects a valentine from a unicorn.” Even though Sparkle knows Lucy is in charge of valentines, he wants to tell Lucy all the reasons that he loves her. For example, he loves her “curly black hair” (she also has brown skin), her “big laugh,” and the fact that she always makes Sparkle feel loved. Sparkle decides to make Lucy a valentine only to find that there’s a reason that no one expects valentines from unicorns. For one thing, he doesn’t know how to write—or how to use scissors. He laboriously cuts out a heart with his horn and creates a message with hoofmarks, tasks that turn out to be harder than he thought. Eventually, Sparkle creates a valentine that he’s happy with—that is, until he accompanies Lucy to a Valentine’s Day party. When he sees what the other children have made, his card for Lucy seems clumsy and inadequate. Sparkle feels terrible until he realizes that what really matters is how Lucy feels—not only about the valentine Sparkle made, but about Sparkle himself. The book’s text is charming and understatedly witty, and the illustrations are both humorous and sweet. The story’s message of self-acceptance is perfectly suited for young readers whose creative visions don’t yet match their abilities.

A sweet and funny Valentine’s Day read. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Nov. 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-374-31422-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021


Safe to creep on by.

Carle’s famous caterpillar expresses its love.

In three sentences that stretch out over most of the book’s 32 pages, the (here, at least) not-so-ravenous larva first describes the object of its love, then describes how that loved one makes it feel before concluding, “That’s why… / I[heart]U.” There is little original in either visual or textual content, much of it mined from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. “You are… / …so sweet,” proclaims the caterpillar as it crawls through the hole it’s munched in a strawberry; “…the cherry on my cake,” it says as it perches on the familiar square of chocolate cake; “…the apple of my eye,” it announces as it emerges from an apple. Images familiar from other works join the smiling sun that shone down on the caterpillar as it delivers assurances that “you make… / …the sun shine brighter / …the stars sparkle,” and so on. The book is small, only 7 inches high and 5 ¾ inches across when closed—probably not coincidentally about the size of a greeting card. While generations of children have grown up with the ravenous caterpillar, this collection of Carle imagery and platitudinous sentiment has little of his classic’s charm. The melding of Carle’s caterpillar with Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE on the book’s cover, alas, draws further attention to its derivative nature.

Safe to creep on by. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-448-48932-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2021


As ephemeral as a valentine.

Daywalt and Jeffers’ wandering crayons explore love.

Each double-page spread offers readers a vision of one of the anthropomorphic crayons on the left along with the statement “Love is [color].” The word love is represented by a small heart in the appropriate color. Opposite, childlike crayon drawings explain how that color represents love. So, readers learn, “love is green. / Because love is helpful.” The accompanying crayon drawing depicts two alligators, one holding a recycling bin and the other tossing a plastic cup into it, offering readers two ways of understanding green. Some statements are thought-provoking: “Love is white. / Because sometimes love is hard to see,” reaches beyond the immediate image of a cat’s yellow eyes, pink nose, and black mouth and whiskers, its white face and body indistinguishable from the paper it’s drawn on, to prompt real questions. “Love is brown. / Because sometimes love stinks,” on the other hand, depicted by a brown bear standing next to a brown, squiggly turd, may provoke giggles but is fundamentally a cheap laugh. Some of the color assignments have a distinctly arbitrary feel: Why is purple associated with the imagination and pink with silliness? Fans of The Day the Crayons Quit (2013) hoping for more clever, metaliterary fun will be disappointed by this rather syrupy read.

As ephemeral as a valentine. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-9268-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2021

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