chocolate kisses and all good wishes…five books for sharing the love on Valentine’s Day

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere are plenty of Valentine’s Day cynics out there, but I for one love this holiday — a day to shower some extra love on people we hold dear and spread some love in corners where it’s a bit thin.

I’ve got five sweet titles today, several more sprinkled into the upcoming week, and a bunch in the Subject Index, too, all just right for snuggling up and enjoying with someone you love!

hug machine cover imageHug Machine, written and illustrated by Scott Campbell
published in 2014 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers

This boy is super-terrifically-good at hugging!

Mom and Dad, the policeman and the lady at the bus stop, even trees and a happy little turtle — everyone and everything in this fella’s path gets his giant hug treatment!

If you are a prickly porcupine and no one hugs you because of those quills — have no fear! The Hug Machine will not be stopped!

hug machine illustration scott campbell

If you are a Blue Whale and others are intimidated by your size — do not worry! The Hug Machine has got you covered.

Careen around with this energetic hugger and feel the sunshine! It’s a sublimely happy tale featuring bold, naive watercolors, childlike hand-lettering, and plenty of throbbing pink and red to blast us with all that lovin’.

Share it with kids ages 18 months and up and prepare to be hugged!!

love always everywhere cover imageLove Always Everywhere, written and illustrated by Sarah Massini
published in 2014 by Random House

Love can be quiet as two friends sharing a story.

It can be loud as a tin trumpet!

Love brings cookies and milk to a friend sick in love always everywhere illustration sarah massini 001bed.

It searches for a lost teddy until it’s found.

Sarah Massini’s minimal, rhyming text proclaims the sweetness of friendship and love — indoors and out, summer and winter, always and everywhere.

Her charming illustrations tiptoe and twirl and tickle and hug irresistibly. Super sweet read for little persons even under-One.

fox in love cover imageFox in Love, by Edward Marshall, pictures by James Marshall
published in 1982 by Puffin Books

The silly “Fox” stories by James Marshall (Edward is just a pen name) are dynamite early readers, full of the goofy humor Marshall is known for.

In this volume, Fox has a number of problems in thefox in love illustration james marshall 001 Romance Department.

He is simply goo-goo-brained over a lovely gal named Raisin. But his penchant for showing off and his line-up of Really Bad Ideas cause him a heap of trouble. Good thing his little sister Louise is such a good sport!

Funny stories, illustrated with Marshall’s brilliant drawings that exude personality and comicalness. Most early readers aren’t this funny. My kids loved ’em. Ages 5 and up.

how far do you love me cover imageHow Far Do You Love Me? written and illustrated by Lulu Delacre
published in 2013 by Lee & Low

Standing on a rocky ledge, the massive Andes Mountains wrinkling into the distance, a Peruvian mama tells her son she loves him to the heights where eagles soar.

Snorkeling around the Great Barrier Reef, an Australian mama tells her daughter she loves her “to the crannies of the corals …on the ocean floor.”

How far do you love one another? It’s a game author Lulu Delacre used to play with her children. And none of this “love you to the moon” business. These landscapes inspire more ingenuous responses!

how far do you love me illustration lulu delacre

Travel to a dozen magnificent locations around the world, including all seven continents, to imagine how far love can stretch. Beautiful paintings whisk us into the settings, and a galaxy of languages ask “How far do you love me?” at the book’s end. Ages 3 and up.

Neighbors M.B. Goffstein cover image 001Neighbors, written and illustrated by M.B. Goffstein
published in 1979 by Harper and Row

The first time I saw my new neighbor, she was waving good-bye to her moving van.

Have you been there? Shyly peeking out the window at someone new? Observing from across the room? Trying not to let the new girl notice you stealing glances at her?

The girl in this story wants to reach out to her new neighbor. Her instinct is to be friendly. But…it’s a hard business. A bit qualmish. So, she stalls.

Takes a little freshening-up bath.
Changes her kerchief.
She’s just got up her gumption and is heading out the door when an idea occurs. “I ought to bring her a pie!

It’s much more comfy mixing, rolling, sprinkling in your own kitchen than going out to Meet New Persons. Finally she’s finished. Her neighbor greets her and her pie warmly and invites her in. But — all that cooking wears a body out and it seems she falls quite asleep in her neighbor’s house!

M.B. Goffstein has written a delightful story of two shy neighbors edging their way towards one another and friendship. I love the honesty and universality encompassed in her brief text.

neighbors interior m.b. goffstein

Additionally, we have her cool illustrations — minimalist line drawings which miraculously invite us into the pages. In this era of sumptuous color and complex line and mixed media layers in our children’s books, Goffstein’s bare-bones line acts like a whisper in a crowded room — it hushes us and rivets us our attention.

I’ve refrained from using the word “simple” in my review as what strikes the eye and ear as simple is achieved through incredibly hard work. But that is the feel of this quiet story.

A lovely read for ages 4 and up.

Now go and bake your neighbor a Valentine’s Pie!