Different Kinds of Love Stories: Valentine Books for Kids

Originally published on Bookslut (February 2008)


What better way to spend Valentine’s Day than to curl up with your sweet little one and read a book?  But not every Valentine book has to be about “mushy” love. Here’s a selection of funny, silly and offbeat books that provides another way to celebrate the day of love.

Roses are Pink, Your Feet Really Stink-by Diane DeGroat (Mullberry Books) 
Illustrated in watercolors and sprinkled with hand-written notes, this book tells the story of Gilbert whose not-so-nice Valentine gets into the hands of the wrong person. Gentle mudslinging ensues and Gilbert finds himself ostracized a recess.  In the end, the characters learn the power of forgiveness. What’s more important, they get to heart-shaped cookies after everything cools off.

Be My Valenslime by J.K. Arden, illustrated by Joy Allen (Dutton)
A slightly more mature version of “Roses are Pink” involves a boy and girl who like playing practical jokes on each other in the guise of Valentine greetings. It all starts with a candy box that actually contains slimy bugs from Greta to Harris. Then Greta gets even by putting a pickle in Harris’ tuba. The gags are pre-adolescent to be sure, but when the couple discover they both like the same book—well, we all know how that can cement a relationship.

Falling for Rapunzel by Leah Wilcox, illustrated by Lydia Monks (Puffin)
Sometimes the prince and princess are just not meant for each other. The first line of the story provides a clue that this book departs from both the fairytale and stereotypes -- “Once upon a bad hair, a prince rode up Rapunzel’s way.” Told in clever rhyme, Falling for Rapunzel recounts the risks of miscommunication between would-be mates. (It’s hard to hear someone from a high tower). Pratfalls and jokes abound. But, finally, all ends well for the right couple. Thebright artwork done in acrylic paint, paper montage and colored pencils combines the romance of lace and ruffles with sweet gingham and broad-brushed clouds. I especially liked the photos of the evergreens gracing the countryside.

Sally and Dave, a Slug Story (Kane Miller) 
by Felice Arena- This is a different kind of love story to be sure. These two creatures are different in every way. For starters, Sally’s athletic while Dave’s a couch potato. But when Sally’s welfare is jeopardized by an outside threat, Dave summons all his strength and becomes a hero. The books succeeds at presenting a real-live romance to enjoy for kids whose tastes may not run to Cinderella and her gang.

Little Mouse’s Big Valentine by Thacher Hurd (Harper Trophy)
Looking for love is never easy, especially if you’ve got a heart that’s too big. That’s Little Mouse’s problem as he struggles to find just the right friend. Thacher Hurd tells a charming tale of a protagonist whose determination should inspire us all. The illustrations are as delicate and deft as the writing.

For all around silliness try Olive You!: And Other Valentine Knock-Knock Jokes You'll A-Door (Lift-the-Flap Knock-Knock Book) by Katy Hall, Lisa Eisenberg and Stephen Carpenter