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by Tina Casey & illustrated by Theresa Smythe

Age Range: 4 - 7

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-8075-7178-4
Publisher: Whitman

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)