IF YOU'LL BE MY VALENTINE

Cynthia Rylant, Author, Fumi Kosaka, Illustrator
Cynthia Rylant, Author, Fumi Kosaka, Illustrator , illus. by Fumi Kosaka. HarperCollins $14.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-06-009270-2
Paperback - 32 pages - 978-0-06-009271-9
Library Binding - 1 pages - 978-0-06-009269-6
Prebound-Glued - 32 pages - 978-1-4177-0070-7
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What are the rewards of becoming the boy narrator's valentine? That depends on whom he's addressing. On the left-hand side of each spread, readers see a homemade heart-themed missive specially tailored for a beloved recipient; opposite, a full-bleed illustration demonstrates how the sentiment inside the card plays out—and clearly it's an offer too good to refuse. For his dog, the boy draws a heart with a bone where Cupid's arrow would go, and promises, "If you'll be my valentine/ I'll give you extra treaties/ I'll give you two/ and maybe three/ and let you lick my feeties." Mom gets a valentine covered in hearts that doubles as an invitation to tea for two—during which the hero displays a suave mastery of pouring. For a big brother who undoubtedly thinks Valentine's Day is mushy, the boy makes a ghoulish valentine and proposes to "make you funny faces." Kosaka's (Ordinary Mary's Extraordinary Deed ) simply rendered, openhearted pictures provide literal distillations of the text, but do little to energize the gentle rhymes. Older or antsier readers may wish for more visual hooks and a less sentimental ending ("We'll love the trees/ and all the world.../ We'll love each other, too"). Younger children, however, will likely warm to the book's genial straightforwardness, and eagerly speculate on the ideal valentines for recipients of their own acquaintance. Ages 3-8. (Dec.)

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