cover image This Is Not a Valentine

This Is Not a Valentine

Carter Higgins, illus. by Lucy Ruth Cummins. Chronicle, $14.99 (48p) ISBN 978-1-4521-5374-2

Higgins (A Rambler Steals Home) follows a boy’s unconventional courtship of one of his classmates, presenting her with a few humble gifts that are a far cry from mass-produced, glitter-laden cards. First up is a bunch of dandelions, “and I already blew the wishes/ off most of them,” he admits, “for a rocket ship/ or the last cinnamon bun/ or moon boots and a mega-blaster.” Throughout the school day, the blush on the girl’s cheeks suggests that she appreciates the thought and care behind the gifts. Cummins’s scruffy cartoons are interspersed with still-life portraits that make a plastic ring, paper airplane, and lucky rock feel like treasures. What’s clear, and what makes the book so poignant, is that the boy pays real attention to his crush and is doing his best to deliver gifts that will be truly meaningful to her. Ages 5–8. [em]Author’s agent: Rubin Pfeffer, Rubin Pfeffer Content. Illustrator’s agent: Emily van Beek, Folio Literary Management. (Dec.) [/em]