No matter where your valentine is, skip.

I LOVE MY TEXAS VALENTINE

Another holiday joins the publisher’s series of state-specific books.

As with the Halloween-themed The Spooky Express Texas (2017), though, this one is neither specific enough to engage Texans nor fascinating/informative enough to engage those outside the Lone Star State. (The series includes books for 24 states and Canada, as well as the all-purpose I Love My Valentine.) While almost every spread points out a specific city or landmark, the illustrations are generic, and taken out of context, most will be nigh unrecognizable. The line breaks (and meter) in the rhyming verses may make it difficult to read aloud, and the arbitrarily capped words are distracting. Two children in a canoe (it’s tethered, but they are sans life jackets) beside Padre Island illustrate “You’re my SWEETIE, / my dear, my SMILE / and my laughter. / You’re my PLAYMATE for always, / and my JOY ever after.” This last includes some concepts that may go over the heads of the book’s target audience. The digital artwork is superbright, employing valentine colors, and it features romantic animal couples as well as a racially diverse bunch of kids. While the kids are enjoying each other’s company, the hearts and butterflies between them (all but two seem to be male/female pairs) emphasize romantic love rather than the more age-appropriate basics of being a good friend. Every spread save one features at least one child of color, and the final spread includes a child in a wheelchair.

No matter where your valentine is, skip. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4926-5981-5

Page Count: 20

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2017

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Safe to creep on by.

LOVE FROM THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR

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. 2, 2021

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As ephemeral as a valentine.

LOVE FROM THE CRAYONS

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. 2, 2021

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