skidamarink a-dink, a-dink…five sweet books that say “i love you!”

vintage_valentine-1Valentine’s Day is coming! Time to break out the chocolates and candy hearts, construction paper and doilies, and tell folks we love ’em!

One way to celebrate is by joining in International Book Giving Day on February 14, which you can read about here. It’s quite simple — give some book love away; and quite powerful — stories shape us.

Looking for some sweet treats in the way of books? Try…

little treasures cover imageLittle Treasures: Endearments from Around the World, words by Jacqueline K. Ogburn, pictures by Chris Raschka
published in 2011 by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children

Dumpling? Snickerdoodle? Little pumpkin? What terms of endearment do you use with your children?

We were partial to “little potato” from a brilliant piece we heard on Minnesota Public Radio years ago. I wish I could imbed it, but you can give it a listen here. Truly awesome lullaby!


around the world, folks invent all kinds of sweet talk, from  “poppet” to little treasures illustration chris raschka 001“lambchop” to “little mischievous pea!” Visit 17 different countries with fourteen languages to learn some of these charming, affectionate nicknames. Chris Raschka’s illustrations wobble and radiate cheer across all the jolly pages. 

An interesting Author’s Note tells us a bit more about the use of endearments in other cultures and the challenge of compiling this list.  Love this book!

all kinds of kisses cover image tafuriAll Kinds of Kisses, written and illustrated by Nancy Tafuri
published in 2012 by Little, Brown and Company

Nancy Tafuri has been producing some of the best toddler books for decades now, so if you see her name on it, you know it’s gold.

This pleasingly-large book is quintessential all kinds of kisses illustration detail from nancytafuri dot comTafuri, with just a few words narrating the glorious, full-page,  illustrations. Burst-of-summer greens and tomato reds, sunny yellows and robin’s egg blues wash through her close-up, gentle compositions. Masterful. 

Meander around the barnyard to see all the wee ones enjoying their mamas’ kisses — little chick, calf, dove, lamb, pup and more, happily soaking up the love. The best kiss of all is saved for last. Can you guess who’s getting it?

Sheer bliss for the very youngest bookworms.

i like you cover imageI Like You, by Sandol Stoddard Warburg, illustrated by Jacqueline Chwast
originally published in 1965; 
currently published by Houghton Mifflin Company

Vintage sweetness here, with the same fetching i like you illustration jacqueline chwastfeel as the Ruth Krauss-Maurice Sendak collaboration A Hole is to Dig.

There are such a lot of good reasons for liking a dear friend:
They remember important things we tell them.
Laugh at our jokes.
Give us time to be sad and quiet when that’s just what we need.
Like us back.

You’ll enjoy this collection of small, insightful, childish thoughts about what makes a person settle in our hearts, and you’ll adore the sketchy ink drawings by Chwast. Sized for small hands, share it with preschoolers and up, or tuck it into an i-love-you package for any size of sweetheart. 

violet and winston cover imageViolet and Winston, by Sonya Sones and Bennett Tramer, pictures by Chris Raschka
published in 2009 by Dial Books for Young Readers

Valentine’s is a good day to celebrate friendships.  Here are three episodes of two enthusiastic, through-thick-and-thin pals, Violet the swan and Winston the duck.violet and winston illustration chris raschka 001

On a picnic, the oblivious Winston drives Violet a bit batty; at the café, Winston’s glasses go missing; and at a garage sale, sentimental Violet confounds Winston’s money-making scheme. These exuberant stories have clever plots, a big scoop of silliness, endearing moments, and a sweet finale. 

Who better to illustrate them than Chris Raschka with his joyful, swishy, playful lines and colors bringing the personalities and predicaments to life. Great fun for ages 4 and up.

herman and rosie cover image gus gordonHerman and Rosie, written and illustrated by Gus Gordon
published in 2013 by Roaring Book Press

This last title has the heartbeat of An Affair to Remember. You know the film where Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr  just miss one another at a critical moment?

Herman Schubert (a crocodile) and Rosie Bloom (a deer) live in their own worlds, all alone, in New York City.

They are such interesting folk. Herman likes potted plants and films about the ocean. Rosie likes pancakes and jazz. They both love the city, and they both love music. In fact, playing the oboe and singing are two of the ways Herman and Rosie keep themselves happy in their somewhat-lonely lives.

When the kibosh gets put to their music-making, they are despondent. It herman and rosie illustration gus gordon from slj dot comtakes time and patience, a sunny walk in the park, a few near misses, and a rebirth of music, before fate happily brings the two together. Oh how nice.

It’s a quirky, charming tale with an unabashedly happy ending. Gordon’s mixed media collages exude personality, New York-ness, the ethos of an old black-and-white film, and lovability. Give this a whirl for ages 5 and up.

You can find more Valentine’s Day titles by searching in the Subject Index. I hope you find time to make someone happy this week!