Special To The Tyler Morning Telegraph, Mia Geiger - Washington Post
Few things say “I love you” better than reading to your young children. You’re giving them your undivided attention, and they’re focused on your words - perfect parent-child bonding. Open up one of these books and create sweet memories this Valentine’s Day.
“Groggle’s Monster Valentine,” by Diana Murray; illustrated by Bats Langley
Groggle wants to give his best friend, Snarlina, a special Valentine’s Day card. He writes: “Roses are red/Garbage is grimy/here is your valentine/icky and slimy.” He’s quite proud of his note, made from a heart-shaped leaf and lettering created from “bog slime.” But a few moments later: “Gobble,/Crunch, Crunch,/Slurp!” Unfortunately, Groggle just couldn’t keep himself from eating it, because of his “monster appetite.” He tries several more times to craft the perfect note, but each time he can’t resist eating it. How will Groggle resolve this dilemma? Vibrant drawings, drenched in deep purples, blues and pinks, create a fantastical atmosphere filled with clever details. Groggle’s hilarious antics, along with lots-to-look-at art, make this a page-turner your little monster will delight in.
“Love Is,” by Diane Adams; illustrated by Claire Keane
From the start of this book, the caring nature of a little girl and neediness of a lost duckling become intertwined. Set in a charming city neighborhood, the book tells the tale of their time together through gentle rhymes: “Love is holding something fragile, tiny wings and downy head./Love is noisy midnight feedings, shoe box right beside the bed.” Cozy snuggles and playful days, though, give way to the duckling’s growing ability to fend for himself - and join his fellow ducks. The little girl’s expressive and adorable facial features convey a range of emotions as she experiences the stages of loving and letting go. Breezy ink sketches and muted hues enrich the warmhearted story.
“Heart to Heart,” by Lois Ehlert
Kids who love humor and puzzles will enjoy deciphering the wordplay in this book. Rebuses created from cut paper offer cute sentiments that form an overall message. Some are easy to figure out, like “Do U wonder Y?” Others require a little more thought, such as “My (picture of a heart) was (picture of a berry) M t” /’B 4 i met u.” Uppercase letters mingled with lowercase letters, whimsical pictures and bright colors make for appealing pages. Words appear near the illustrations, so trickier references can be decoded. It’s as much fun to read this little book aloud as it is to look at the pictures.
“I’ll Love You Always,” by Mark Sperring; illustrated by Alison Brown
If your child wonders how long you’ll love him, look no further than this book. Lush illustrations, done in acrylic paint and colored pencil, depict parent-child bliss while upbeat rhymes offer sprightly reassurance. Follow the blue-hued mommy mouse and her purple-hued youngster as they spend time together, including running through a field watching a butterfly, lying on the grass to gaze at the sky, and building a fort with twigs. Throughout, the mommy mouse espouses the timelessness of her love. “A morning is so brief,/an afternoon, too./From sunrise to sunset,/I’ll keep loving you.” As comforting as a hug, this book is perfect at bedtime.
“I Heart You,” by Meg Fleming; illustrated by Sarah Jane Wright
Animal parents show the many ways they love their little ones in this sparsely worded, beautifully illustrated book. Parent-and-child pairs of rabbits, foxes, bears, swans, birds and deer demonstrate their close ties. Declarative sentences reveal the parent’s feelings during the activities. Though short, the phrases convey a hefty amount of emotion. When a baby fox hides behind a tree (with his tail sticking out), his parent covers her eyes (peeking with one eye open). Then she pretends she can’t find him. “I hide you./I tease you.” The next double-page spread shows the two tussling in the grass. “I find you./I squeeze you.” The last two sets of scenes feature a human mother and daughter and offer a loving sentiment.
“Love Matters Most,” by Mij Kelly; illustrated by Gerry Turley
A momma bear ventures out of her cave despite the bitter cold. But why? “Why is the bear staring into the night, at a world that is turning shimmering white?/The wind’s full of snow. The air’s full of frost./She’s looking for something, but what has she lost?” The bear’s journey takes her through the forest, where she encounters berry trees, twinkling stars, a school of salmon and majestic snowflakes. But wondrous as they all are, none compare to what she was searching for - her little lost cub. The crisp artwork, effective pacing and descriptive rhymes work together to form a seamless story that reflects a momma bear’s determination to find what she loves most.