Nancy Poydar, . . Holiday, $16.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8234-1684-4

A girl's love for Valentine's Day lies at the heart of Poydar's (The Perfectly Horrible Halloween) snappy story set in a multiracial urban classroom. "I'm going to wear all red tomorrow: red top, red bottom, red tights. I even have a red name!" Ruby declares on the eve of the holiday. Her enthusiasm for Cupid's holiday is only slightly dampened when a winter wind steals the rhyming valentines she's created for classmates, for the verses soon find their way to other pleased recipients. The text rollicks along, blending onomatopoeic prose ("Whip, dip, went the wind./ Wap, snap, went the bag") with Ruby's unadorned rhymes ("Roses are red./ Violets are blue./ Don't stay in bed./ There's too much to do!"). Poydar, a former teacher, knowingly captures the holiday excitement found in primary classrooms. Ruby's infectious smile may well bring out the same in readers, as they watch her cavort across the spreads. In one, the African-American heroine practically strides from the page as she happily high-steps through puddles in her red outfit. For those inspired by Ruby's example, directions for making a paper heart conclude this brisk and cheery tale. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)