cover image A Valentine for Norman Noggs

A Valentine for Norman Noggs

Valiska Gregory, Marsha Winborn. HarperCollins, $14.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-06-027656-0

Gregory's (Through the Mickle Woods) holiday tale introduces Norman Noggs, a cherubic young hamster with a crush on the new girl in his class, Wilhemina. The love-struck fellow has some stiff competition in the race to win her heart. As stronger and bigger classmates show off for Wilhemina, Norman shows her where to put her lunch tray and explains the homework. For Valentine's Day, Norman painstakingly creates three poetic, heart-shaped cards for Wilhemina--a lucky number since the bullies destroy the first two. In a fun twist, Wilhemina conquers the bad guys; Norman gets the girl and a valentine from her (Wilhemina's smile makes him blush ""like a pink candy heart""). Winborn's (Grandma's Cat) cheerfully cluttered pictures balance the sweet moments (a moon-eyed Norman clutching Wilhemina's paw) with the comic (one would-be beau tries to impress Wilhemina by sticking spoons in his ears and straws in his nostrils). Less appealing is a cartoon heart that spouts superfluous comments and gestures on each spread. A warm-hearted confection. Ages 5-8. (Jan.)