THE RUNAWAY VALENTINE

Victor is a first-class valentine. He’s got glitter and lace, he sparkles, and he sings 20 love songs with a push of the secret button on his belt. He’s got everything, “everything, that is, except for maybe a little patience.” Elbowing his way to the front of the valentine rack—he’s eager to get snapped up fast—he loses his balance and flutters to the floor. Down among paper scraps and tumbleweeds of dust, Victor begins to lose a bit of his shine (not to mention the button that activates his love songs). Still, he figures somebody will still want him, so he cartwheels out of the store and is grabbed by a young girl. Eureka, thinks Victor, but she only wants him to scoop a marble out of a puddle, then he’s discarded. When picked up again, it’s only to have his lace pulled off or to have someone use him to scribble a note on or to be folded to buffer a blister or be chewed by a squirrel for nest insulation. Victor’s looking bad and feeling worse: “Nobody will want me. I’m no good for anything anymore.” Into this existential moment comes a little girl, who sees in Victor, or what’s left of him, just the thing she needs: The centerpiece for a valentine she is making for her Grandma. Casey has dropped readers a hint much earlier: Back when Victor had fallen out of the valentine rack and lay in the sweepings, one of the pieces of detritus was a fortune from a fortune cookie—“You will overcome difficult times.” And how, rising like a phoenix from the ashes of street life and the toils of dismemberment. Newcomer Smythe’s color-shot, meticulous, cut-paper collage illustrations have a slapstick quality that keeps Victor’s predicament from ever feeling too down and out. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-8075-7178-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2001

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ALWAYS MORE LOVE

An interactive book works to get its titular message across to readers.

The narrator, an anthropomorphic cartoon heart with big eyes and stick arms and legs, is nothing if not exuberant in its attempts, clumsy and cloying as they may be. “I love you so much, / but there’s more in my heart. / How is that possible? / Well, where do I start? // Now move in close, and you will see / just how much you mean to me. // My love is huge—below, above. / As you can tell, there’s always more love!” The page following the instruction to move in shows a close-up of the top of the heart and its eyes, one stick arm pointing skyward, though despite the admonition “you can tell,” readers will glean nothing about love from this picture. À la Hervé Tullet, the book prompts readers to act, but the instructions can sometimes be confusing (see above) and are largely irrelevant to the following spread, supposedly triggered by the suggested actions. The heart, suddenly supplied with a painter’s palette and a beret and surrounded by blobs of color, instructs readers to “Shake the book to see what I can be.” The page turn reveals hearts of all different colors, one rainbow-striped, and then different shapes. Most troublingly, the heart, who is clearly meant to be a stand-in for loved ones, states, “I’m always here for you,” which for too many children is heartbreakingly not true.

Skip. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-7282-1376-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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This Mother’s Day tale is rather limited in its audience to those who can afford fancy brunch after their own religious...

THE BERENSTAIN BEARS MOTHER'S DAY BLESSINGS

From the Berenstain Bears series

The Berenstains’ son adds a Mother’s Day entry to the series, continuing the adventures of the Bear family with a religious focus.

Brother, Sister, and Honey want to do something special for Mama for Mother’s Day, and Papa helps them think of just the thing—brunch at the Bear Country Inn after church—and they can invite Grizzly Gran, too. On the ride to church, Mama points out all the ways other families are celebrating their own mothers even though these community helpers are working on the holiday: Officer Marguerite’s children bring her flowers as she directs traffic, and Mrs. Ben’s children are pitching in with farm chores. Indeed, the trip to church is eye-opening for the cubs, who never realized that some of their neighbors even had children. During the church service, Preacher Brown thanks God for the gift of mothers and quotes the Bible: “Your mother was like a vine in your vineyard planted by the water; it was fruitful and full of branches.” While the illustrations are the same as ever (the smiling bears haven’t aged a bit!), the series seems to have moved away from addressing a variety of families.

This Mother’s Day tale is rather limited in its audience to those who can afford fancy brunch after their own religious services, contrary to its apparent message that being together is all that matters. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-310-74869-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Zonderkidz

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2016

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