U R the 1 4 Me

A number of familiar friends are back for Valentine's Day adventures. Youngest Charles Schulz fans can enjoy a tiny holiday adventure with Baby Snoopy's Valentine. This board book, cut into the beloved beagle's shape, follows Baby Snoopy's search to find Baby Woodstock and deliver his valentine. (S&S/Little Simon, $5.99 12p ages 1-4 ISBN 0-689-85781-0; Jan.)

Rosemary Wells's rotund rabbit and star of the Nick Jr. TV series is back in the board book Max's Valentine. The tale follows Max's quest for sweet satisfaction in the form of "Be Mine" hearts, "Yum-Yum Glitter" and "candy cupids." Max fans will likely be shouting "Be mine!" right along with him. (Viking, $5.99 14p ages 2-4 ISBN 0-670-03668-4; Jan.)

Lola returns in a board book edition of I Love to Cuddle by Carl Norac, illus. by Claude K. Dubois. A follow-up to I Love You So Much (1998), Lola creates her own "Cuddle Island" when her parents go out for the day. The illustrations of Lola and her parents exude familial warmth and humor. (Doubleday, $5.99 20p ages 6 mos.-3 yrs. ISBN 0-385-74628-8; Jan.)

Five plastic candy hearts ("Puppy love"; "You send me"; etc.) shine through the die-cut pages of Five Little Candy Hearts by William Boniface, illus. by Lynn Adams, told in singsong rhyme. As with earlier books in the series, the quintet of hearts counts down with a flip of the page, to a pop-up surprise at the end. (Penguin/PSS, $5.99 12p ages 3-up ISBN 0-8431-0603-4; Dec.)

The bovine buddies are back to share their love in Minnie and Moo: Will You Be My Valentine? by Denys Cazet. From Moo's "Ode to the Cream Puff" (inspired by a mishap that sends Minnie's pastry into her lap) to some misdirected love poems that cause a hubbub in the barnyard, this new beginning reader adventure will once again win the affections of Minnie and Moo fans. (HarperTrophy, $3.99 paper 48p ages 4-8 ISBN 0-06-444314-0; Dec.)

After celebrating Halloween and Christmas together, Kate Spohn's buddies return for Turtle and Snake's Valentine's Day. The story follows Turtle as he runs errands in town, buying presents for his best friend, Snake; beginning readers also can look for the surreptitious Snake in each scene, as he has a Valentine's surprise of his own. (Viking, $13.99 32p ages 4-7 ISBN 0-670-03613-7; Dec.)

Susan L. Roth brings back her gorgeous and delicate paper collage artwork in My Love for You All Year Round, done in the style of My Love for You (1999). The book takes readers through each month of the year, describing the extent of the narrator's love for his or her offspring. "My love for you is louder than fireworks in July, and quieter than a lazy August" (this last shows the small brown mouse sitting on the white mouse's lap for a story). Combined with the captivating collages, the text makes for a soothing display of love, any time of year. (Dial, $14.99 32p ages 2-6 ISBN 0-8034-2796-8; Dec.)

The classic heroine with the candy heart returns in the hand-size Raggedy Ann's Candy Heart Kisses: Sweet Thoughts to Share, outfitted with turn-of-the-century illustrations and featuring one truism per page "from the works of" Johnny Gruelle. The book brims with sugary messages of love, friendship and social awareness, such as "...however small they may be, kindly deeds grow and grow until they blossom and fill our hearts with the sunshine of Happiness." (S&S, $8.95 48p all ages ISBN 0-689-86770-0; Jan.)

Lizzie McGuire fans can take care of their valentine-giving duties with Lizzie McGuire: My Crush-tacular Book of Valentines. The book contains 32 photographic valentines featuring the TV star, perforated for easy addressing and delivery, plus numerous stickers as well. (Disney/ Volo, $5.99 paper ages 8-12 ISBN 0-7868-4613-5; Dec.)

The fourth Holiday Ha-Ha's title, Valentine's Day Jokes and Riddles by Craig Yoe, is exhaustive, with pages of material on love, marriage, heartbreak and the holiday itself. Many of the jokes and one-liners are a bit of a stretch ("Why is Valentine's Day so great? It's in Fab-ruary!"), but may still appeal to youthful senses of humor. (Penguin/PSS, $3.99 paper 128p ages 8-12 ISBN 0-8431-0482-1; Sept.)

Attack of the 50-ft. Cupid picks up where Lunch Walks Among Us left off in the Franny K. Stein, Mad Scientist, series by Jim Benton. In this installment, Franny gets a lab assistant courtesy of her mother. Franny also learns about giving valentines and what it means to feel love (for her new pet at least)—but not before an all-out battle royal with Cupid, brought to life and made grossly enormous by science-gone-wrong. The book also includes a twisted valentine generator and removable cardboard valentines. (S&S, $14.95 112p ages 7-10 ISBN 0-689-86292-X; Jan.)

Love and Kisses

A hearty bunch of additional Valentine's Day picture books, pop-up books and other tales of love are out this winter. The cheery 3-D Bee Mine: A Pop-up Book of Valentines by Olive Ewe, illus. by Daniel Moreton, capitalizes on the often-punny nature of valentines, and features animals that spring from the pages to deliver the punch lines (e.g., "Wool you be mine?/ I love ewe") plus campy, heart-toned artwork. (S&S/Little Simon, $12.95 16p ages 4-8 ISBN 0-689-84814-5; Jan.)

There's more tactile fun in store in Give a Little Love by Lizzie Mack, illus. by Julia Gorton. Nine silky, squishy balloons push through die-cut hearts in the pages. Readers can follow young Marissa through this rhyming book as she gives away the balloons to her family members and learns a lesson about love in the process. (S&S/Little Simon, $9.99 24p ages 3-6 ISBN 0-689-85950-3; Jan.)

Readers will discover just why Mama and Papa love their Baby Bunny in Love and Kisses, Bunny by Dandi Daley Mackall, illus. by Hala Wittwer. The gently rhyming story, just right for bedtime, will likely leave children as warm and fuzzy as the fur-covered illustrations. (S&S/Little Simon, $4.99 12p ages 2-5 ISBN 0-689-85803-5; Jan.)

In another fuzzy board book, Kate Spohn does a riff on "All Creatures Great and Small" in Critter Love. As the text describes the virtue of loving all living things ("Love the big/ and the small./ Hug the furry, the sleek,/ the short, and the tall"), the thick cardstock pages feature scruffy strips of fabric on the animals, characters and landscapes. (HarperFestival, $10.99 24p ages 3-6 ISBN 0-06-052977-6; Dec.)

Hugs Hugs Hugs Kisses Kisses Kisses by Jenny Miglis, illus. by Tammie Lyon, is two books in one. Young children can rhyme along with the book's descriptions of a wide array of hugs, such as "I spilled my juice hugs./ My tooth is loose hugs," then flip the book over to read more rhymes featuring a myriad of kisses. (Penguin/PSS, $7.99 40p ages 2-5 ISBN 0-8431-0296-9; Dec.)

Two board books full of baby photographs by Michael Scott arrive for Valentine's Day and Easter. Skidamarink! I Love You takes the familiar children's song and pairs it with photos of adorable infants against pastel backgrounds. Bunny Day poses equally precious babies with jellybeans, flowers and eggs, accompanied by a poem by Pascale Lapin. (Hyperion, $5.99 each 12p ages 6 mos.-3 yrs. ISBN 0-7868-1915-4; -1921-9; Jan.)

The Valentine's Day classic, She Loves Me... She Loves Me Not... by Robert Keeshan, illus. by Maurice Sendak, originally published in 1963, is reissued this winter. Sendak's cherubic illustrations capture the intense, vacillating emotions of a young couple in love. (HarperCollins, $12.95 32p all ages ISBN 0-06-028791-8; Dec.)

Verses from antiquity to the present appear in the paperback The Best Love Poems Ever, edited by David Rohlfing. Featured poets rhapsodizing on love's virtue and influence include Sappho, Walt Whitman and Langston Hughes. In "A Statue of Eros," the Greek poet Zenodotos writes, "Who carved Love/ and placed him by/ this fountain,/ thinking/ he could control/ such fire/ with water?" (Scholastic, $3.99 paper 80p ages 9-up ISBN 0-439-57390-4; Jan.)

For older readers, Blushing: Expressions of Love in Poems and Letters, ed. by Paul B. Janeczko, collects love poems and letters by an array of famed literary figures. From the works of William Shakespeare to Edna St. Vincent Millay and Maya Angelou, among many others, these expressions (often in verse, sometimes in letters) honor love in its many incarnations. In "I Shall Hide Myself," Chino Masako writes, "I shall hide myself/ within the moon of the spring night,/ after I have dared to reveal/ my love to you." (Scholastic/Orchard, $15.95 112p ages 12-up ISBN 0-439-53056-3; Jan.)

Chinese New Year

The Year of the Monkey begins January 22, 2004, with colorful festivities. Happy, Happy Chinese New Year! by Demi is a reissue of her 1997 book Happy New Year! Kung-His Fa-Ts'ai! She chronicles New Year celebrations against delicate landscapes of Chinese houses and fields, with pictures of children preparing for the holiday, a listing of foods and their special significance (e.g., "Taffy candy, T'ang-kua, is for the Kitchen God, Tsun Kuan") as well as the Lantern Festival. A festively hued preprinted cover depicts the Lion Dance (to scare away evil spirits), and a transparent vinyl cover carries the title and author. (Crown, $8.95 24p ages 4-8 ISBN 0-375-82642-4; Nov.)

Dragon Dance: A Chinese New Year Lift-the-Flap Book by Joan Holub, illus. by Benrei Huang, tells how Chinese families celebrate the New Year with special foods, gifts of money tucked into red envelopes for good luck, fireworks and parades with dramatic dragon puppets. The bouncy, rhyming text and large flaps on sturdy pages are just right for young children, and directions for making a dragon puppet extend the fun. (Picture Puffin, $6.99 paper 16p ages 2-6 ISBN 0-14-240000-9; Dec.)